8 Marks Of The Church

The Son Confessing Church

 

INTRODUCTION

Urban Legends

 

The 999 phone charging myth is an urban legend, which claims that calling the police and fire services, then hanging up, charges mobile phone batteries.[1]

 

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_urban_legends]

 

There are many common myths about the church that are misguided at best and dangerous at worst

 

BODY

  • Myth

    • You can believe what you want about Jesus and be a healthy church

    • This myth, if believed, can be dangerous because:

        • It can cause people to think they know Jesus when they really know “another Jesus” that’s not really Him

        • It can cause a church to be schizophrenic at best and apostate at worst when it comes to Jesus.

    • We know this is a myth because Jesus said a clear mark of a healthy church would be a church filled with people who confess correct things about His nature and character

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD

    • MARK: ​​ The Son Confessing Church

        • The Son Confessing Church and the Teaching of Jesus (John 10:37-39)

          • Background

            • Jesus has been teaching at the Temple area during the Feast of Dedication

            • The Jews gather around Jesus and ask Him a question and make a statement

              • “How long will you keep us in suspense?”

              • “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

            • Jesus’ response is that He had already told them, but they didn’t believe

            • The miracles He does in His Father’s name speak for Him

            • They did not believe Him, because they were not His sheep

            • Jesus then makes His confession and pleads with the Jews to believe

          • Just believe (vv. 37-39)

            • I wish we could have heard Jesus’ tone of voice at this point, because my guess is that His tone was one of pleading with the Jews to believe

            • Challenge

              • Don’t believe me

                • If I don’t do what my Father does, then don’t believe in Me

                • This would certainly be an indication that Jesus was not from God

                • He would have been a false prophet or teacher trying to direct them away from God

                • So, they obviously shouldn’t believe in Him or follow Him

              • Believe the miracles

                • While Jesus doesn’t say it directly here, He is saying to them, “Even though you don’t believe my words, believe the works (miracles) from the Father

                • “Jesus’ works were the window into his words.” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 344]

                • PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s people recognize His Son through His miracles.

                • If you believe the miracles from the Father, you will understand that the Father is in me, and I’m in the Father

                  • “Interestingly, coming to understand is presented as the result, rather than condition, of believing.” ​​ [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 317]

                  • Sometimes we have to take the step of faith without having all of our questions answered and then we will be able to understand that Jesus’ works prove His words

                • PRINCIPLE #2– Jesus and God are One!

              • Even though Jesus is pleading with the Jews to believe in Him, they aren’t quite ready to take that step yet

            • Reaction of the Jews

              • They try to seize Jesus, either to stone Him or to arrest Him

              • Jesus escapes their grasp, because it’s still not God’s timing for Him to be put on trial and killed

          • Jesus was confessing that He is the Son of God that the Father is in Him, and He is in the Father – Jesus and God are One!

          • Jesus confessed His deity and exclusive claims about Himself

        • The Son Confessing Church and the Teaching of the Early Church (Acts 2:24-36)

          • Background

            • We saw last that Acts 2 retells the events that happened during Pentecost in Jerusalem

            • We know that the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles in power and enabled them to share the Gospel in the various languages of the people who had gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks

          • Peter explains Jesus’ resurrection (vv. 24-32)

            • Peter is confessing Jesus’ resurrection, to the people gathered in Jerusalem

            • Jesus is alive!

            • He is the only person who died, was buried, came alive again, and is still alive today

            • The fact that He is still alive today sets Him apart from every other prophet, teacher, human being, or god

            • Peter explains that David, as a prophet, has died and was buried and his tomb is still there to this day

            • Peter and the other Apostles were witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection

          • Peter explains Jesus’ ascension and current position (vv. 33-36)

            • He is exalted to the right hand of God.

            • Footstool – this was a practice in the Orient where the conqueror would put his foot on the neck of the conquered.

            • God made Jesus both Lord, kü-rē-os, meaning he to whom a person or thing belongs; and Christ, khrē-sto’s, meaning anointed.

            • Peter is confessing the deity of Jesus Christ

          • The teaching of the early church is that Jesus was resurrected by the power of God and is still alive today and that God has made Him Lord and Christ (deity)

        • The Son Confessing Church and the Teaching of the Apostles (1 John 4:2-3; Philippians 2:5-11)

          • Teaching of the Apostle John (1 John 4:2-3)

            • John is helping believers everywhere to know how to discern whether a spirit is from God or not

            • Every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ is from God

            • Here we see that the confession or acknowledgement is that Jesus came in the flesh

            • This speaks of Jesus’ humanity

            • John mentions it again in his second letter, Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. ​​ Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. (2 John 7)

          • Teaching of the Apostle Paul (Philippians 2:5-11)

            • Paul teaches us that Jesus is God (deity)

              • Being in very nature God (v. 6)

              • Jesus Christ is Lord (v. 11)

            • He also teaches us that Jesus was human (vv. 7-8)

            • We also learn about Jesus’ substitutionary death (v. 8)

          • The Apostles’ confession is that Jesus is both God and man and that He died on a cross to take our punishment for sin

        • We have the teachings of Jesus, the early church, and the Apostles about this mark, but we also have a picture found in Revelation

    • METAPHOR: ​​ The Bride of Christ (Revelation 19:6-10)

        • This is the end of human history – the hope of every believer

          • Jesus is the Lamb, the Bridegroom

          • His disciples are His bride

          • The hope of every follower of Jesus Christ is to be invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!

        • “As the Bridegroom, Jesus has confessed His love for us and union with us, and as the Bride, we likewise confess our love for Him and union with Him. ​​ He has intimate knowledge of us – who we really are, and we have intimate knowledge of Him – who He really is.” ​​ [Matt Kyser]

        • How does this apply to us?

    • APPLICATION (how will we know if this mark of The Church marks Our Church?)

        • We will have intimate knowledge of and confess the deity of Jesus (John 1:1-4)

          • In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ​​ He was with God in the beginning. ​​ Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. ​​ In him was life, and that life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4)

          • As disciples of Jesus Christ, we will confess that Jesus is fully God

          • He is not just another prophet, teacher, or good human being – He is God!

        • We will have intimate knowledge of and confess the humanity of Jesus (John 1:14)

          • The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. ​​ We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

          • While it may be difficult for our finite human minds to comprehend, Jesus is also fully man

          • He is fully God (100%) and fully man (100%) and yet He is one person

            • Colossians 2:9, For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,

            • Luke 24:39, Look at my hands and my feet. ​​ It is I myself! ​​ Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.

          • As human beings, we do not have to understand how Jesus can be fully God and fully man at the same time, we just have to believe

        • We will have intimate knowledge of and confess the sinless life of Jesus (Hebrews 4:15)

          • Scriptures

            • For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

            • God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

          • Jesus was the only One who could take our punishment on the cross, because He was perfect, without sin

          • We are human and fallible, Jesus is both God and man and perfect

        • We will have intimate knowledge of and will confess the substitutionary death of Jesus (1 Peter 2:24)

          • He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

          • But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. ​​ Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:26b-28)

          • But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

        • We will have intimate knowledge of and confess the resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

          • For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: ​​ that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. ​​ After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. ​​ Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

          • Jesus’ resurrection is what sets Him apart from everyone else – He is still alive today, interceding for us before the Father

        • We will have intimate knowledge of and confess the exclusive claims of Jesus (John 14:6)

          • Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. ​​ No one comes to the Father except through me. (Hebrews 4:15)

          • There are those in our culture today, that want everyone to believe that there are multiple ways to heaven and since God is loving, He will let everyone in to heaven

          • The old saying is, “all roads lead to heaven.”

            • That saying is false

            • I would modify the saying to say, “all roads lead to God.”

              • For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10)

              • You, then, why do you judge your brother? ​​ Or why do you look down on your brother? ​​ For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. ​​ It is written: ​​ “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess God.’” ​​ So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:10-12)

              • “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. ​​ Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ ​​ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. ​​ Away from me, you evildoers!’” ​​ (Matthew 7:21-23)

              • During the final judgment, all the nations will appear before Jesus and He will separate the people like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31-46)

            • Jesus is the only way to heaven and the Father

          • We have to confess the exclusive claims of Jesus

        • Our desire is to have a church filled with people who confess correct things about Jesus’ nature and character

 

  • YOU

    • Idaville Member Survey from RESTOR Renewal Ministries

        • Four of the five questions from The Son-Confessing Church section of the survey were in the top ten of the least difficult for us as a church

          • That is encouraging, because it means that these are things we readily believe and embrace

          • “The people in our church believe that Jesus is the unique Son of God, fully God and fully man, and the way, the truth, and the life – no one coming into a relationship with the Father but through Him.” (1 of 10)

          • “I hear the name of Jesus consistently in sermons, teaching content, small groups and interpersonal conversations in our church.” (2 of 10)

          • “Our church consistently teaches on the Person and work of Jesus on the cross, connecting the truth of the Gospel with any particular passage or theme.” (3 of 10)

          • “The leaders in our church consistently and publicly point to Jesus as the Head and primary Leader of our church.” (6 of 10)

          • “It is obvious that love for and obedience to Jesus is the reason our church exists.” (12 of 12)

        • Encouragement and Challenge

          • If you believe and it is a settled fact in your heart and mind that Jesus is fully God and fully man, that He lived a sinless life and gave His life on the cross for you, that God raised Him from the dead and is still alive today, and that the only way to heaven and the Father is through a personal relationship with Him, then I want to encourage you to continue in that faith

            • These are the truths of Jesus that the world needs to hear

            • We have been called and commissioned to confess these truths where we live, work, learn, and play

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to confessing the truths about Jesus to my family, friends, fellow students, and coworkers.

          • If you are struggling in your heart and mind about any of these truths, that Jesus is fully God and fully man, that He lived a sinless life and gave His life on the cross for you, that God raised Him from the dead and is still alive today, and that the only way to heaven and the Father is through a personal relationship with Him, then I want to challenge you to do a couple of things

            • Pray and seek the Lord’s face concerning the truth(s) that you are struggling with

            • Spend time reading the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and ask the Lord to make these truths evident to you through His Word

            • Reach out to Pastor Marc, myself, or another fellow believer, so we can walk alongside you as you pray and read God’s Word – accountability is so important

            • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to praying, reading God’s Word, and reaching out to other believers concerning the truths of who Jesus is and what He came to earth to accomplish.

 

  • WE

    • Vision

        • Core Values

          • “We are a church that reaches out, spreading God's Word, God's glory, and God's promises to those that do not know Him.”

          • “Our leadership strives to be led more by Jesus, to lead more like Jesus, so we can lead more to Jesus.”

        • We are committed as a church and as leaders to confessing Jesus to those we live, work, learn, and play with

    • Traction

        • One of our annual goals for 2022 is to have a 10% increase in the number of people attending Sunday school and/or discipleship groups

        • Another annual goal is to have 10% increase in the pursuit of holiness as evidenced through salvations, baptisms, and accountability

 

CONCLUSION

“The greatness of God is most clearly displayed in his Son. And the glory of the gospel is only made evident in his Son. That's why Jesus' question to his disciples [in Matthew 16] is so important: ‘Who do you say that I am?’

 

The question is doubly crucial in our day, because [no one is as popular in the U.S. as Jesus]—and not every Jesus is the real Jesus. …

 

There's the Republican Jesus—who is against tax increases and activist judges, for family values and owning firearms.

 

There's Democrat Jesus—who is against Wall Street and Wal-Mart, for reducing our carbon footprint and printing money.

 

There's Therapist Jesus—who helps us cope with life's problems, heals our past, tells us how valuable we are and not to be so hard on ourselves.

 

There's Starbucks Jesus—who drinks fair trade coffee, loves spiritual conversations, drives a hybrid, and goes to film festivals.

 

There's Open-minded Jesus—who loves everyone all the time no matter what (except for people who are not as open-minded as you).

 

There's Touchdown Jesus—who helps athletes fun faster and jump higher than non-Christians and determines the outcomes of Super Bowls.

 

There's Martyr Jesus—a good man who died a cruel death so we can feel sorry for him.

 

There's Gentle Jesus—who was meek and mild, with high cheek bones, flowing hair, and walks around barefoot, wearing a sash (while looking very German).

 

There's Hippie Jesus—who teaches everyone to give peace a chance, imagines a world without religion, and helps us remember that ‘all you need is love.’

 

There's Yuppie Jesus—who encourages us to reach our full potential, reach for the stars, and buy a boat.

There's Spirituality Jesus—who hates religion, churches, pastors, priests, and doctrine, and would rather have people out in nature, finding ‘the god within’ while listening to ambiguously spiritual music.

 

There's Platitude Jesus—good for Christmas specials, greeting cards, and bad sermons, inspiring people to believe in themselves.

 

There's Revolutionary Jesus—who teaches us to rebel against the status quo, stick it to the man, and blame things on ‘the system.’

 

There's Guru Jesus—a wise, inspirational teacher who believes in you and helps you find your center.

 

There's Boyfriend Jesus—who wraps his arms around us as we sing about his intoxicating love in our secret place.

 

There's Good Example Jesus—who shows you how to help people, change the planet, and become a better you.

 

And then there's Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. Not just another prophet. Not just another Rabbi. Not just another wonder-worker. He was the one they had been waiting for: the Son of David and Abraham's chosen seed; the one to deliver us from captivity; the goal of the Mosaic law; Yahweh in the flesh; the one to establish God's reign and rule; the one to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, freedom to the prisoners and proclaim Good News to the poor; the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world.

 

This Jesus was the Creator come to earth and the beginning of a New Creation. He embodied the covenant, fulfilled the commandments, and reversed the curse. This Jesus is the Christ that God spoke of to the Serpent; the Christ prefigured to Noah in the flood; the Christ promised to Abraham; the Christ prophesied through Balaam before the Moabites; the Christ guaranteed to Moses before he died; the Christ promised to David when he was king; the Christ revealed to Isaiah as a Suffering Servant; the Christ predicted through the Prophets and prepared for through John the Baptist.

 

This Christ is not a reflection of the current mood or the projection of our own desires. He is our Lord and God. He is the Father's Son, Savior of the world, and substitute for our sins—more loving, more holy, and more wonderfully terrifying than we ever thought possible.”

 

Used by Permission

 

Source: Kevin DeYoung, "Who Do You Say That I Am?" from his DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed blog (posted 6-10-09)

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2009/august/1082409.html]

11

 

8 Marks Of The Church

The Spirit Filled Church

 

INTRODUCTION

Urban Legends

 

The Killer in the Backseat (also known as High Beams) is a common car-crime urban legend well known mostly in the United States and the United Kingdom. The legend involves a woman who is driving and being followed by a strange car or truck. The mysterious pursuer flashes his high beamstailgates her, and sometimes even rams her vehicle. When she finally makes it home, she realizes that the driver was trying to warn her that there was a man (a murdererrapist, or escaped mental patient) hiding in her back seat. Each time the man sat up to attack her, the driver behind had used his high beams to scare the killer, after which he ducked down.[38]

 

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_urban_legends]

 

There are many common myths about the church that are misguided at best and dangerous at worst

 

BODY

  • Myth

    • If your church is filled with people, you have a healthy church

    • This myth, if believed, can be dangerous because:

        • It can cause us to focus more on how many people are in our church instead of how Jesus is at work in the lives of the people who are in our church

        • It can give a false sense of security to those who attend our church – that they are part of His Church simply because they show up to our church

    • We know this is a myth because Jesus said the first mark of a healthy church would be a church filled with people who are filled with His Spirit

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD

    • MARK: ​​ The Spirit Filled Church

        • The Spirit Filled Church and the Teaching of Jesus (John 3:5-7)

          • Nicodemus has come to Jesus at night

            • Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again

            • Nicodemus is trying to understand how someone can be born again, physically

            • Jesus is helping Nicodemus to understand that He is not talking about being born again physically, but rather, spiritually (being born from above)

          • Born of water and spirit

            • Jesus uses the phrase born of water and spirit to mean the same thing as being born again or born from above

            • Jesus is not talking about baptism or two births here

            • Ezekiel 36:25-27, I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. ​​ I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. ​​ And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

            • “In essence God said, ‘You need to be clean on the inside – washed with water. ​​ You need your heart to come alive by my Spirit. ​​ Then, and only then, will you be able to obey me.” ​​ [Carter and Wredberg, 57]

          • Like gives birth to like

            • Flesh gives birth to flesh is simply referring to natural human birth – the physical

            • Spirit gives birth to spirit is the supernatural – the spiritual (born from above)

          • So, Jesus teaches us that we cannot participate in the kingdom of God unless we are born from above, meaning that we have the Holy Spirit living in us

        • The Spirit Filled Church and the Teaching of the Early Church (Acts 2:38-39)

          • Background

            • Luke explains in Acts 2 how the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles at Pentecost

            • He also retells Peter’s address to the crowd when they speculated that the Apostles had had too much wine

            • After Peter shares the Gospel with the crowd, they are cut to heart and ask him what they should do

          • Peter’s reply

            • Repent

              • Repenting is much more than just being sorry about our sin or being sorry that we got caught in our sin

              • Turning from sin – “changing the direction of your life from selfishness and rebellion against God’s laws.” [NIV Life Application Bible, p. 1948]

              • Turning to Christ – “depending on him for forgiveness, mercy, guidance, and purpose.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, p. 1948]

              • It is recognizing that we are done with sin

              • Read Romans 6:1-14

              • Peter couples repentance with baptism

            • Be baptized

              • Baptism does not save us from our sins, that is what repentance does

              • Baptism identifies us with Christ and fellow believers

              • “It is a condition of discipleship and a sign of faith.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, p. 1948]

              • I always refer to baptism as believers baptism, because it is a step of faith that shows outwardly what has taken place inwardly (repentance)

            • Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

              • Peter experienced the gift of the Holy Spirit coming upon those who repented while visiting Cornelius

                • Cornelius had been visited by an angel and was told to send for Peter who was staying in Joppa

                • The Lord prepared Peter for this important evangelism task by giving him a vision of clean and unclean animals and telling him that what He has made clean in not impure

                • Peter returned to Cornelius’ house and shared about Jesus of Nazareth with Cornelius and everyone who was in his house

                • Peter explains that he and the other Apostles were witnesses to Jesus’ arrest, conviction, death, burial, and resurrection

                • While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. ​​ The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. ​​ For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. ​​ Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? ​​ They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” ​​ So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. ​​ Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days. (Acts 10:44-48)

              • The gift of the Holy Spirit was not reserved just for the circumcised Jews

            • The promise is for everyone

              • While Peter was addressing primarily Jews from all over the diaspora (Roman Empire), he realized, even at Pentecost, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone

                • It is for children, youth, adults, etc.

                • It is for those in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8)

                • It is for everyone the Lord calls – all ethnic groups

          • The teaching of the early church reminds us that the evidence of true repentance is the filling of the Holy Spirit and a desire to be baptized

        • The Spirit Filled Church and the Teaching of the Apostles (Titus 3:4-7)

          • God’s love expressed (v. 4)

            • The word “but” makes the transition to the discussion of how to deal with the sin that has enslaved us

            • God’s kindness and love appeared when He sent His Son Jesus from heaven to earth

            • God’s love was expressed for us through this act

              • Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

              • God’s love for us never ends – He wants us to recognize our sin and turn to Him – to be in relationship with Him

            • We know God’s will concerning mankind

              • Some people will tell you that God’s will and purpose is to make their life miserable

              • Others will tell you that God is simply waiting for them to make a mistake, so He can discipline them

              • But, scripture tells us God’s will

                • Matthew 18:14, In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost. (He wants children to be saved from their sins)

                • 2 Peter 3:8-9, But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: ​​ With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. ​​ He is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. ​​ He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

              • His will is that everyone of us turns from our sin, repent, and seek His salvation

            • Jesus’ work

              • Jesus’ purpose was to seek and to save the lost

              • He did that by dying on a cross, taking our sin on His body, and paying the ransom so we could be saved

            • God accepted Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for our sin by allowing Him to come alive again

          • He saved us! (v. 5)

            • God is the One who initiated salvation for mankind

              • We can’t save ourselves

              • We can’t do enough good things to be saved by God

              • We can’t say enough good things, help enough people, give enough money, etc., to be saved by God

              • It was God’s mercy that saved us (mercy is not getting what we deserve)

              • Ephesians 2:8-9, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

            • How did God save us? (vv. 5b-6)

              • Through the washing of rebirth and renewal

                • Washing – some scholars believe this is referring to baptism, but baptism is not a part of salvation

                  • Baptism is an outward expression of an inward decision – letting others know publicly that you have asked Jesus Christ to save you

                  • “‘Washing’ here means ‘bathed all over.’ When a sinner trusts Christ, he is cleansed from all his sins, and he is made ‘a new person’ by the indwelling Holy Spirit.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 267]

                  • It is a spiritual cleansing that removes moral stains

                  • Psalm 51:7, Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

                • Rebirth is the result of washing – we are made new, our sins have been removed

                • Renewal – the process of moral renovation or transformation which follows the new birth [Stott, 204]

              • By the Holy Spirit

                • The washing that brings about rebirth and renewal comes by the Holy Spirit

                • God poured out the Holy Spirit on us generously through Jesus Christ

                • The Holy Spirit lives in us as a reminder and as evidence that we have been washed, made new, and transformed

                • The Holy Spirit is the One who helps us to understand Scripture

                • He is the One who reminds us of Scripture when we are tempted to do wrong

                • He is the One who prompts us concerning spiritual disciplines that will deepen our relationship with God

            • Why did He save us? (v. 7)

              • We see the purpose clause that begins with “so that” – it tells us why God saves us

                • Paul reminds us again that we have been justified by God’s grace

                • Justification is defined as “just as if I have never sinned”

                • That’s how God sees us through the blood of Jesus Christ – without sin

              • Become His children

                • God saves us so that we might become heirs

                • John 1:12-13, Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

                • God saved us so we could be part of His family

                • If we’re part of His family then we will be able to live with Him someday where He lives – heaven

              • Have hope of eternal life

                • As God’s children we have hope of eternal life

            • Eternal life is the kind of life we need here on earth to obey God and the kind of life we need to live with God in heaven someday

          • We learn from the teaching of the Apostles that God saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal that takes place by the Holy Spirit that lives within us

        • We not only see this mark proclaimed to us through teaching, but through a picture

    • METAPHOR: ​​ The Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20; 2 Corinthians 6:16)

        • Bible Project Video – “Temple” (Windows Media Player) ​​ [https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/temple/]

        • Imagery in Scripture

          • Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? ​​ If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

          • Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? ​​ You are not your own; you were bought at a price. ​​ Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

          • What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? ​​ For we are the temple of the living God. ​​ As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16)

        • As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are God’s temple since the Holy Spirit lives within us

    • APPLICATION (how will we know if this mark of The Church marks Our Church?)

        • We will look like a new people (1 Peter 2:9-10)

          • But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9-10)

          • Our unity, pursuit of holiness, and love for one another will be evident to our community and those around us

        • We will have a new perspective (2 Corinthians 4:6)

          • For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

          • We will recognize the glory of God as we shine His light to those around us

          • It is serving within our giftedness

        • We will walk in a new power (Acts 1:8)

          • “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

          • The Holy Spirit will give us boldness in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those locally, domestically, and internationally

        • Our desire is to have a church filled with people who are filled with the Holy Spirit

 

  • YOU

    • Idaville Member Survey from RESTOR Renewal Ministries

        • Four of the five questions from The Spirit-Filled Church section of the survey were in the top ten of the most difficult for us as a church

          • “The people in our church understand what their spiritual gifts are and regularly use them to serve our church in tangible ways” (1 of 10)

          • “The people in our church consistently live out the ‘fruits of the Spirit’ in their everyday lives” (5 of 10)

          • “The people in our church know what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit” (6 of 10)

          • “Our church consistently teaches on the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit in various teaching settings” (10 of 10)

        • How do we address these questions?

          • We have provided and will continue to provide a spiritual gift survey for every church attender

            • We will counsel with you about how to use your spiritual gifts in a tangible way to serve the church

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Take the spiritual gift survey and begin using my spiritual gifts in a tangible way to serve the church.

          • The fruit of the Spirit are found in Galatians 5:22-23a, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

            • How are you using the fruit of the Spirit in your everyday life?

            • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Choose at least one of the fruit of the Spirit and begin using it in my everyday life.

          • To be filled with the Holy Spirit means that we are transformed as disciples of Jesus Christ

            • We are dead to sin and alive to Christ – we longer desire to pursue the things of this world and the evil in it

            • Our thoughts, actions, and speech are controlled by the Holy Spirit

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Allow the Holy Spirit to control my thoughts, actions, and speech.

          • As leadership, we will make a concerted effort to highlight teaching about the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit through messages and lessons

 

  • WE

    • Vision

        • One of the core values that we developed at the Dream Retreat is, “We are a church who encourages our members to discover, develop, and use their spiritual gifts.”

        • Under the growth strategy, proven process section we are committed to our membership knowing their spiritual gifts and using them

        • We are also committed to the fruit of the spirit being evident in our body

    • Traction

        • One of the annual goals for 2022 is to have 20% increase in volunteerism for the Wednesday evening and Sunday morning services

        • One of the quarterly goals is to have the Board of Administration take the spiritual gift survey

        • Another quarterly goal is to have you all take the spiritual gift survey

 

CONCLUSION

“I cannot make someone fall in love with Jesus.

 

It really came home for me, literally, with my own teenage daughter, who, 18 months ago, was not in love with Jesus. I spent nights crying, bawling, praying to the Lord. Here I am known for my ability to communicate, but there was nothing I could do for my own daughter that would make her fall in love with Jesus. Of course I could still guide and lead her, but I was powerless to convict her.

 

I prayed, ‘God, either your Spirit comes into her or your Spirit doesn't. It doesn't matter how great a dad I am. I cannot bring her to life.’

 

One day she came into my room and said, ‘You were right, Dad. The Holy Spirit was not in me. But now he is.’ She talked about how near she was to God and how everything had changed. My wife and I were skeptical. We wanted to see evidence of change. But 18 months later, I can say she really is a new creation. I didn't do that. It was the Holy Spirit.”

 

Condensed from our sister publication Leadership Journal, © 2010 Christianity Today International. For more articles like this, visit Leadershipjournal.net.

 

Source: Francis Chan, "Catching Waves," LeadershipJournal.net (posted 5-17-10).

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2010/june/3060710.html]

10

 

Origins

Wondering While Wandering

(Genesis 21:8-21)

 

INTRODUCTION

“I did not want to go to prayer service that evening; I wanted to stay home and make a dish of candied fruit from a new recipe. But the recipe called for three oranges, and I had none.

 

Reluctantly, I decided to go to church, thinking that if I got the oranges that night, I could make the dish first thing in the morning. As I drove through the city to church, I stopped at every corner store along the way, looking for oranges. Unfortunately, all the stores I passed were out. I arrived at church feeling disappointed but determined to keep my mind on the service until the end.

 

As I was leaving, a teenaged boy asked for a ride home, and I agreed to take him. When we pulled into the public housing project where he lived, my headlights landed on a loaded pick-up truck. As we drew in closer I shrieked, ‘Oranges!’ There, spotlighted by a street lamp, stood a truckload of oranges, boxes and boxes of large, beautiful oranges.

 

‘Where is the driver?’ I asked aloud.

 

‘Here he comes now!’ replied the teenager. Reaching hurriedly in my purse and finding one dollar, I gave it to the teen and told him to ask the man if I could buy three oranges. He jumped out as I craned my head out the window trying to see around the truck. I was still holding my breath when the boy came around the truck with as many oranges in his arms as he could carry.

 

‘He didn't have any bags!’ called the boy.

 

Awed and overjoyed, I took the fruit, returning several to the grateful teen. That night, I made my candied fruit, knowing I had put God first, and he had met my needs.”

 

Source: Margaret D. Pagan, Baltimore, Maryland.

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2002/october/13938.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Moving from Florida

        • We were living in Florida at the time

        • We were expecting our first child and we decided to live off my income only and save Judy’s income

        • We knew that after the school year was over and our baby was born, that we were going to be moving back to Ohio from Florida

        • The savings we accumulated was just what we needed to survive until I started serving with Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF)

        • It took us a little bit of time to raise our personal finances with CEF

        • God provided for us while we were wandering

    • Moving from California

        • He did the same thing when we moved from California

        • We put everything in storage and started back across the country not knowing that we would finally settle down in Pennsylvania

        • We spent time with Judy’s parents in Florida and my parent’s in Alabama

        • We even spent time with Judy’s grandma in Ohio

        • Eventually, God called us to serve Idaville UB Church in Pennsylvania

        • God had provided the income we needed while we wandered across the country and He provided places for us to stay

        • We knew that He was with us while we were wondering what the next step would be

 

  • WE

    • Wondering while we wander

        • Perhaps each person here today understands what it’s like to wonder while we wander

        • My guess is that we have all seen God provide during a transition

        • Maybe He prepared us ahead of time or provided throughout the transition

        • The great thing is that He was with us the whole time

 

Family tensions came to head at a feast Abraham had held in Isaac’s honor. ​​ The result caused Hagar and Ishmael to wander through the desert with minimal supplies. ​​ God was with them through their wanderings and He provided for them as they wondered what was going to happen to them. ​​ Through this important narrative today, we will learn that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – God is with us even in our wanderings.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 21:8-21)

    • Deride (vv. 8-10)

        • Weaned

          • Approximately three years have passed from verse 7 to verse 8

          • “In traditional societies mothers nurse children for longer than is customary in the West; in 2 Macc. 7:27 a mother refers to having nursed her son for three years.” ​​ [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, 331]

            • Hannah waited until Samuel was weaned before taking him to the temple to serve for the rest of his life (1 Sam. 1:22-24)

            • Gomer waited until Lo-Ruhamah was weaned before having another son with Hosea (Hosea 1:8)

          • Feast

            • We are not told if Abraham held a great feast for Ishmael when he was weaned

            • In the ancient Near East, it was something to celebrate when a child made it to the age of three, because the infant mortality rate was so high

            • We see here that Abraham prepares a great feast to celebrate Isaac turning three and moving on from milk to solid food

          • Even though Sarah was no longer barren, it appears as though there was still tension between her and Hagar

            • Goldingay highlights the fact that family gatherings have the ability to bring to the surface underlying issues that are not resolved, but are festering [Goldingay, 331]

            • How many of us can relate to that reality?

            • Perhaps yesterday brought some things to light

            • Maybe there was tension during the family Christmas gathering

            • Some of us were probably not looking forward to getting together with our family

            • Can I encourage you, today, to forgive your family members, whether or not they ask for forgiveness?

            • Just tell the Lord, right now, that you forgive them

            • Don’t end 2021 and begin 2022 with a rift behind you and another family member

          • Isaac has been weaned and the family is having a party for him, but Sarah is worried

        • Worried

          • Sarah was acutely aware that Ishmael was actually Abraham’s first-born son

            • Because of the miraculous nature of Isaac’s birth, Sarah is probably guessing that she will not have any more children

            • Imagine how protective she probably was of Isaac

            • She was not going to let anything happen to him, physically

            • She would not tolerate others mistreating him verbally

            • I know how protective I am of my own children, as most parents are

          • Mocking

            • During the celebration for Isaac, Sarah noticed that Ishmael was mocking Isaac

            • The Hebrew root word for mocking means “to laugh” [Waltke, Genesis, A Commentary, 294]

              • Some people believe that Ishmael was just laughing together with Isaac – playful laughing

              • But, it would seem that Sarah would not react the way she does, if they were simply playing together

              • The Apostle Paul perhaps helps us to understand the seriousness of what Ishmael is doing

              • Galatians 4:29, At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit.

            • In the Piel form of the verb it means to laugh in bad taste, with the intent to verbally harm

            • Perhaps Ishmael is using Isaac’s name in a way that is making others laugh at him or to ridicule him

            • “Isaac, the object of holy laughter, was made the butt of unholy wit or profane sport. ​​ He [Ishmael] did not laugh, but he made fun. ​​ The little helpless Isaac a father of nations! ​​ Unbelief, envy, pride of carnal superiority, were the causes of his conduct. ​​ Because he did not understand the sentiment, ‘Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?’ it seemed to him absurd to link so great a thing to one so small” (Hengstenberg).” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 156]

            • As a protective mother and the first wife of Abraham, Sarah will not stand for this

            • She demands that Abraham get rid of that slave woman and her son

          • Drive out

            • Sarah’s demand is not a friendly request

            • “Her entreaty is strongly worded: “get rid” (gārēš) describes the evictions of Adam (3:24) and Cain (4:14), the removal of Moses by Pharaoh (Exod 10:11), and the dispossession of Canaan’s population (e.g. Exod 23:29-30; Josh 24:18).” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 269]

            • This verb in the Piel form means to “throw out, drive out, get rid of”

            • The same verb in the Qal form means “divorce” [Goldingay, 332]

          • No sharing

            • Sarah does not want anyone to be in competition for Abraham’s inheritance

            • She wants Isaac to be the only heir

            • “According to the legal practices of that time, she [Sarah] had no genuine cause for worry. ​​ The Nuzi documents . . . imply that just as the inheritance rights of a son born to a man and his servant girl take precedence over the rights of an adopted son, so also do the inheritance rights of a son born to a man and his wife take precedence over those of a servant girl’s son. ​​ To summarize the matter in the context of Abraham’s family, just as Ishmael’s rights superseded those of Eliezer, so also Isaac’s rights would supersede those of Ishmael (Youngblood, 181).” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 184]

        • ​​ The demand from Sarah, concerning Hagar and Ishmael, is distressing for Abraham

    • Distress (vv. 11-13)

        • Concerned

          • Abraham is emotionally attached to Ishmael – how can he not be, since Ishmael was his only child for around 11-12 years

          • Sarah is demanding that Abraham cut all ties with Hagar and Ishmael

          • There is a high probability that Abraham will never see Ishmael again

          • Distressed

            • The Hebrew word can also be translated as “displeased, very wrong, grievous”

            • “The word translated ‘grievous’ means ‘to shake violently,’ like curtains blowing in the wind.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 102]

            • Abraham is physically upset

          • But the Lord comforts him in his distress

        • Comforted

          • God tells him not to be distressed about Hagar and Ishmael

          • He tells Abraham to listen to what Sarah is telling him

            • Perhaps Abraham is struggling to understand why the covenant cannot come through Ishmael

            • The Lord again reaffirms the fact that Abraham’s offspring will be reckoned through Isaac

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is sovereign!

              • “God has determined that Isaac is the one through whom fulfillment will come, through whom Abraham’s offspring will be ‘named’: his genealogical line is the one that will count.” ​​ [Goldingay, 333]

              • “Ishmael will not share in the inheritance with Isaac, but that is not because of Sarah’s pettiness, or jealousy, or skullduggery. ​​ It is because God has decreed that Abraham’s line of promise will be continued through Isaac. ​​ Here is an instance of God using the wrath of a human being to accomplish his purposes.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 81]

              • God in his sovereignty chose several second-born children to fulfill his purposes and continue the line to Jesus

                • The Lord accepted Abel’s sacrifice over Cain’s

                • The Lord chose Jacob over Esau (Gen 27:27-29)

                • The Lord chose Ephraim over Manasseh (Gen 48:14)

              • Even when we do not understand God’s plans, we can trust in His sovereignty to accomplish His purposes

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – “The Lord has a word for us even in our severest dilemmas.” ​​ [Baldwin]

              • The Lord can speak to us in various ways

                • Through prayer

                • Through His Word

                • Through a sermon

                • Through other believers

                • Even through unbelievers

              • He can speak to us through difficult circumstances, which is what Abraham experienced

              • Abraham had to be attentive to what the Lord was saying

              • Perhaps someone here today is going through a difficult situation

                • Is the Lord speaking to you through someone else?

                • What He is saying may not be what you want to hear, but God is sovereign

                • It may cause you to shake violently when you think about what has to be done

                • Are you willing to be obedient to what the Lord is saying?

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Listen to the voice of the Lord in the middle of the difficult situation I am experiencing.

            • As we will see in just a moment, Abraham obeyed the Lord

            • The Lord not only told Abraham to listen to Sarah, He also reaffirmed His promise concerning Ishmael

          • Promise reaffirmed

            • The Lord promises to make Ishmael into a nation also

            • The reason the Lord gives, is because Ishmael is Abraham’s offspring

            • This again goes back to the promises the Lord gave to Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. ​​ I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – God keeps His promises!

              • We know that the Arab nations came from Ishmael’s line

              • God fulfilled His promise to Abraham that Ishmael would also become a nation of people

          • The Lord comforted Abraham in the difficult task that lay before him

        • Abraham was obedient as he accomplishes the task early the next morning

        • PRINCIPLE #4 – God is pleased when we obey Him.

          • We fleshed this principle out last week, so we will not spend additional time on it this week

          • It is still an important principle for us to embrace

    • Drift (vv. 14-21)

        • Sent (v. 14)

          • Abraham gives Hagar food and water

            • He does not give her cattle and flocks

            • He does not give her servants

              • “In the Lipit-Ishhtar law code (ca. 1875 B.C.), a clause stipulates that if a slave bears children and the father then grants freedom to her and her children, ‘the children of the slave shall not divide the estate with the children of their (former) master.’” ​​ [Waltke, 294]

              • This is in keeping with the fact that Sarah states that Ishmael will not share in Isaac’s inheritance

            • Abraham gives her the amount of food and water she is able to carry on her own

              • The skin would have held approximately 3 gallons of water (24 pounds) [Waltke, 295]

              • We’re not told how much food she is carrying

          • Separation

            • After supplying her with food and water, Abraham sends her off with Ishmael

              • The Hebrew word for “sent her off” in the Piel form is “another term that can mean divorce.” ​​ [Goldingay, 333]

              • Abraham is making a clean break with Hagar and Ishmael

              • He is setting them free

              • At this point, Abraham has to trust the Lord to provide for Hagar and Ishmael

              • Abraham’s hope and faith are based on the promise that the Lord had given him that Ishmael would also be a nation

              • Abraham could trust in the promise of God, that his son would not die, while wandering in the desert

            • Hagar wanders in the desert of Beersheba

              • [Show map of the desert of Beersheba]

              • The fact that they are wandering is evidence that she and Ishmael are all alone and do not have a place to live [Mathews, 273]

              • They are probably moving from place to place, but have not found a permanent location to call home

              • Imagine being given just enough food and water to carry and then being sent away

              • Everything we have ever known, and the security of a family unit are all gone

              • We have to start all over again

              • The emotions we would be having would be devastating

          • That is exactly what Hagar and Ishmael were experiencing

        • Sad (vv. 15-18)

          • No water

            • “In such wilderness, when your water is finished (v. 15), you are finished, and so is your child.” ​​ [Goldingay, 334]

            • Hagar recognizes that fact, which is why she does what she does with Ishmael

            • Perhaps dehydration has sapped the boy of his strength and ability to walk – he is dying!

          • Sobbing

            • Hagar cannot bear to listen to Ishmael’s cries of suffering

              • She separates herself from him after putting him under a desert bush for shade

              • A bowshot is approximately a half a mile [Goldingay, 334]

              • At this distance, she would not be able to hear Ishmael’s cries, but she could probably still see him

            • If she could provide food and water for him, she would

            • Hagar’s sobbing is without hope

              • She is thinking that she and Ishmael are going to die

              • She has forgotten that God was with her in the wilderness 16 years before

              • He had appeared to her by the spring that is beside the road to Shur (Gen. 16:7-9)

              • God was going to be with her again

            • God is with us even in our wanderings.

              • When we don’t know what to do or where to turn, God is with us

              • When we feel like we are wandering through life’s desert, God is still with us

              • He will take care of us and provide for us

              • We can have hope in His presence with us

              • He promises to never leave us or forsake, so we can say with confidence that the Lord is our helper (Heb. 13:5-6)

            • It appears as though Hagar’s sobbing is simply that – she is feeling sorry for herself and for Ishmael and just sits down and begins to cry

          • God hears and responds

            • God heard Ishmael crying

            • Perhaps Ishmael was crying out to God asking Him for help

            • As God hears Ishmael’s cries, He responds to Hagar

              • He speaks to her from heaven

              • First, He asks her what is wrong

              • Then He encourages her not to be afraid – He has a plan to save them

              • Hagar has to return to where she left Ishmael and help him to stand

              • Finally, God reveals that He will make Ishmael into a great nation

              • They are not going to die, but rather thrive, by God’s grace

            • PRINCIPLE #5 – God is concerned about the outcasts.

              • There are all kinds of outcasts

                • Those who have been alienated from their immediate family

                • Those who have been alienated from their extended family

                • Men and women who have experienced divorce or separation

                • Husband and wives who have lost their spouse to death

                • Children who have lost their parent(s) to death

                • Individuals who have been alienated from a friend group, because of either negative or positive life changes

              • I want you to know, today, that God is concerned about you!

                • He hears your cries for help

                • He knows you are feeling hopeless, anxious, depressed, and like there is nothing to live for

                • He is ready to send someone to help you stand – to support you through this difficult time

                • He is ready to save you

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Find hope in the truth that God is concerned about my situation and me.

          • The Lord encouraged Hagar in her seemingly hopeless situation and He provided a way of salvation

        • Saved (vv. 19-21)

          • There the whole time

            • God opened Hagar’s eyes and she saw a well of water

            • She was able to refill the skin and give Ishmael a drink

            • It is amazing that the solution to Hagar and Ishmael’s plight was there the whole time – they were just blind to it

            • How often is that true of us, as well

              • The solution to our problem, to our situation is already at hand, but we cannot see it

              • This happens because we are so consumed with the problem

              • When we step back and turn to the Lord for help, He gives us a new perspective on the situation

              • We can see clearly what we need to do and how to handle the situation

            • PRINCIPLE #6 – God provides for us.

              • I do not know about you, but I’m always blessed when God provides the solution to my problems

              • Our problems are not a surprise to God, because He is all-knowing

              • He already has a plan prepared to help with and provide just what we need

              • We just need to turn to Him and trust Him

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Turn to the Lord and trust Him to provide for me.

            • My guess is that the cool drink of water helped to revive Ishmael and Hagar

            • Finally, we see the quick progression of Ishmael’s life from teenager to adult

          • God is with us

            • God was with Ishmael as he grew up

            • This fulfilled the promise God had made to Abraham and Hagar concerning their son

            • He lived in the desert and became an archer

            • His mother obtained an Egyptian wife for him while he was living in the Desert of Paran [show map]

            • God was with Ishmael in his wanderings – it appears as though he never stopped wandering in the desert

            • God is with us even in our wanderings.

 

  • YOU

    • Do you need to listen to the voice of the Lord in the middle of your difficult situation?

    • Find hope in the truth that God is concerned about you!

    • Are you ready to turn to the Lord and trust Him to provide for you?

 

  • WE

    • As a body of believers, we experience difficulties too that require us to listen to the voice of the Lord, find hope in the truth that He is concerned about us, and trust Him to provide for us

 

CONCLUSION

“David Jeremiah wrote a book entitled A Bend in the Road (Word, 2000) that details his struggle with cancer that began in September 1994, when he was diagnosed with lymphoma. He describes the dark days of ‘life’s disruptions’ and reminds us that as the Israelites traveled long distances from their homes to Jerusalem to worship and celebrate the great feasts, they often sang to express their joy and faith in God.

 

We don’t see Abraham singing at any point in Scripture, but he certainly set the foundation for people of faith who want to handle life’s disruptions and struggles with spiritual courage. Abraham exemplified Jeremiah’s emphasis on how to handle the burdens of life, including the conflict with Abimelech and the agony of sending Hagar and Ishmael into the desert. Jeremiah says, ‘When the enemy closes in, we’ll never defeat him using his own weapons. Instead, we load the weapons of our lips, our tongues, our hands, our wills … with the most powerful gun powder that has ever been discharged on earth—worship and praise’ (Jeremiah, 126).

 

Jeremiah survived the first physical struggle, but his cancer reappeared in the fall of 1998. During this time he found great comfort in the Book of Psalms: ‘Whenever I have suffered, the psalms have provided my medicine; when I have been wounded, they have bandaged me and have pointed me toward healing … I’ve drunk deeply of them, bathed in them, and let them wash over me until I’ve felt the dust of the world cleansed away by the hope and peace of God’s presence in the music of the psalms’ (Jeremiah, 141).”

 

[Gangel & Bramer, 189]

14

 

Origins

Le J.I.T.

(Genesis 21:1-7)

 

INTRODUCTION

“JIT is a form of inventory management that requires working closely with suppliers so that raw materials arrive as production is scheduled to begin, but no sooner. ​​ The goal is to have the minimum amount of inventory on hand to meet demand.

 

JIT inventory management ensures that stock arrives as it is needed for production or to meet consumer demand, but no sooner. The goal is to eliminate waste and increase the efficiency of your operations. Since the main objective is often quality and not the lowest price, JIT requires long-term contracts with reliable suppliers.

 

JIT is what’s known as a lean management process. In JIT, all parts of any production or service system, particularly people, are interconnected. They inform each other and are mutually dependent on generating successful outcomes. This practice’s origin comes from Kaizen, a Japanese term meaning “change for the better.” Originating in Japan, the business philosophy looks to continuously improve operations and involve all employees, from assembly line workers to the CEO. Like JIT, the goal is to reduce waste and improve quality.”

 

[https://www.netsuite.com/portal/resource/articles/inventory-management/just-in-time-inventory.shtml]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Placenta previa

        • We had a miscarriage between our second and third sons

        • Since Judy’s body did not naturally remove the fetus, she had to have a procedure to remove it

        • The procedure created scar tissue, which posed a problem with the next pregnancy – our youngest son

          • It is not uncommon for the egg to implant low in the uterus, because of the scar tissue

          • Early on in that pregnancy, Judy was diagnosed with placenta previa

          • This condition happens when the baby’s placenta partially or fully covers the mother’s cervix – the outlet of the uterus, which leads to the birth canal

          • Natural birth is not an option and delivery requires a C-section

        • During the pregnancy we kept praying that the placenta would move up the uterine wall and not cover the cervix

          • God answered those prayers, and we saw, through various ultrasounds, the movement of the placenta

          • Judy was able to have a natural delivery of our third child

          • We trusted and had faith in God’s power and ability to cause the placenta to move on its own

          • God allowed the placenta to move just-in-time

 

  • WE

    • Just-in-time

        • Every one of us can probably share a time when we experienced God’s power through our faith arriving at just the right time

        • It was not too early or too late

        • We may have felt like it was too late or getting too late, but it was not

          • Perhaps our experience is centered around a medical issue or pregnancy

          • Maybe our experience had to do with finances and God providing at just the right time

          • Some people have experienced God’s perfect timing through relationships

          • Students can attest to the fact that God helped them to complete a paper or project, just-in-time

 

Abraham and Sarah have been living in the Promised Land for 25 years. ​​ Abraham had received a word from God of a promised son. ​​ While he may have thought that Ishmael was that promised son, the Lord reminded him that the promised son would come from him and Sarah. ​​ At just the right time, God fulfilled His promise to Abraham. ​​ God’s promises are Le J.I.T. (legit/legitimate). ​​ Sarah had heard the promise just a year before and had laughed with doubt. ​​ Abraham had also laughed when he heard the promise, but his laughter was filled with faith instead of doubt. ​​ What we will see today in Genesis 21:1-7 is that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – “Faith in God’s promises releases God’s power.” [Wiersbe]

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 21:1-7)

    • Obtained (vv. 1-2)

        • Gracious

          • The Hebrew is literally “visited”

            • It meant that God intervened in the affairs of humanity

            • It meant that God supernaturally superseded nature

            • He was concerned about Abraham and Sarah

            • “. . . we have here an instance where visit takes on the connotation of Yahweh mercifully delivering one form an apparently hopeless situation, that is, infertility.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 72-73]

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God keeps His promises!

            • He is never early and never late

            • He keeps His promises in His time and in His way

              • This is especially difficult for us in America, because we are accustomed to instant gratification

              • Most times we do not have to wait for anything

              • Patience is a virtue, but it is one virtue most people in our society lack

              • “Trusting God’s promises not only gives you a blessing at the end, but it gives you a blessing while you are waiting.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Genesis-Deuteronomy, 99]

                • Most of us do not recognize the blessing while we are waiting

                • We become frustrated and angry with God

                • We experience dissolution toward God

                • Doubt in God’s ability to do the supernatural begins to creep in, which can breed doubt in His existence, love, compassion, and care for us

                • That doubt can drive people away from a personal relationship with the Lord

              • In the midst of our frustration, anger, dissolution, and doubt, we have to hold on to faith in an all-powerful God who is able to do far more than we can ask or imagine

              • “Faith is a journey, and each happy destination is the beginning of a new journey. ​​ When God wants to build our patience, He gives us promises, sends us trials, and tells us to trust Him.” ​​ [Wiersbe]

                • Is God building your patience right now?

                • What promises has He given to you? (take a moment to write those down)

                • What trials are you experiencing, currently? (take a moment to write those down)

                • Are you trusting the Lord through those trials?

                • James 1:2-8, Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. ​​ Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ​​ If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. ​​ But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. ​​ That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

              • God can and will keep His promises to you and me

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Patiently wait, through the trials I am experiencing, for God to fulfill His promises to me.

          • Abraham and Sarah had to exhibit a great deal of faith as they waited 25 years for the promise to be fulfilled

        • Promise fulfilled

          • That is what we see in the verse 2

          • Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to a son

          • This happened when Abraham was 100 years old

            • That seems amazing to us, but God is able to do the miraculous

            • God continued to sustain Abraham in his old age, because he remained alive until this promised son grew up to be an adult

            • God’s sustaining power is incredible!

          • Faith in God’s promises releases God’s power!

            • This promised son came at the very time God intended for him to come and according to the promise given the year before

            • God waited for Abraham and Sarah to be “as good as dead” so that their son would be a miracle from Him and not just from a natural process

            • Read Romans 4:17-21

            • Ephesians 4:20-21, Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! ​​ Amen.

        • While we see the faith and patience of Abraham and Sarah, we also see Abraham’s obedience

    • Obedience (vv. 3-5)

        • Abraham names his son

          • NOTE: ​​ “Both Isaac and Jesus were named before they were conceived (Gen. 17:19; Luke 1:31). ​​ Both mothers conceived through God’s supernatural activity. ​​ Both sons fulfilled the Abrahamic covenant.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 183]

          • He gives him the name Isaac just as God had directed him

          • Genesis 17:19, Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. ​​ I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.

          • The name Isaac means “he laughs”

          • Genesis 17:15-17, God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are not longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. ​​ I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. ​​ I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” ​​ Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? ​​ Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”

          • As we saw in Romans 4, Abraham’s laughter was not without faith – he still believed that God was able to accomplish what He had promised

          • “Isaac was designated as the fruit of omnipotent grace working against and above the forces of nature.” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 155]

          • Abraham not only names his son Isaac, in obedience to the Lord's command, he also circumcises him

        • Abraham circumcised his son

          • On the eighth day, after Isaac’s birth, Abraham circumcised him

          • Genesis 17:10-12, This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: ​​ Every male among you shall be circumcised. ​​ You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. ​​ For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner – those who are not your offspring.

        • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is pleased when His people obey His commands.

          • Abraham was obedient to the commands of God

          • Are we obedient to the commands of God?

            • This is a question that we need to ask ourselves

            • “There is a simple exercise I walk through with church leaders. ​​ First, I have them list all the things that people expect from their church. ​​ They usually list obvious things like a really good service, strong age-specific ministries, a certain style/volume/length of singing, a well-communicated sermon, conveniences such as parking, a clean church building, coffee, childcare, etc. ​​ Then I have them list the commands God gave the Church in Scripture. ​​ Usually they mention commands like ‘love one another as I have loved you’ (John 15:12), ‘visit orphans and widows in their affliction’ (James 1:27), ‘make disciples of all nations’ (Matt. 28:19), ‘bear one another’s burdens’ (Gal. 6:2), etc. ​​ I then ask them what would upset their people more – if the church didn’t provide the things from the first list or if the church didn’t obey the commands in the second list. . . . God had given clear commands in the Old Testament He expected His people to obey (613 things to be exact). ​​ Then along the way those people created additional traditions God never actually asked them to do but they felt were good ideas. . . . Honoring traditions made the Pharisees feel like they were obeying God when they actually weren’t. . . . Many of us have become so accustomed to various traditions that we genuinely think they are commanded.” ​​ [Francis Chan, Letters to the Church, 46, 48]

            • Francis Chan’s comment hits close to home for many of us

            • Are we more concerned about our expectations being fulfilled and traditions being followed or obeying the commands of God?

            • How are we doing with obeying God’s commands?

            • I know for myself, and I’m guessing the same is true for every one of us, that we can improve in the area of obeying God’s commands

            • That is what pleases the Lord

          • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Choose to obey God’s commands and identify at least one command where I need to improve.

            • Imagine what it will look like when we focus on obeying the commands of God instead of our own expectations and traditions

            • The Lord will be pleased and we will be more unified, holy, and loving

            • What an incredible opportunity we have to continue to develop these qualities as followers of Jesus Christ

        • Abraham obediently followed the commands of God and Sarah worshiped the Lord for His grace extended to her

    • Overjoyed (vv. 6-7)

        • Sarah’s laughter has been transformed

          • Before, she laughed to herself

          • Genesis 18:12-13, So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?” ​​ Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’”

          • Now, she laughs openly and encourages others to join in her laughter

          • “Sarah credits God with changing her laughter of incredulity (17:17-19; 18:12-15) into joy. ​​ All will now laugh in joy and amazement with Sarah.” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis, A Commentary, 293]

          • Even Sarah’s statement about her nursing a child, shows the joy she is experiencing

        • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is glorified when we rejoice at the display of His sovereign power.

          • The birth of Isaac obviously helped to strengthen Sarah’s faith

          • How often does the display of God’s sovereign power strengthen our faith?

            • When the initial diagnosis says there is something there that needs further investigation, but when the time comes for that appointment, the doctors cannot find what was originally there (our faith is strengthened)

            • The end of the month is coming, but there is not any more money to pay bills and someone anonymously drops off an envelope with money in it (our faith is strengthened)

            • The furnace, air conditioner, or vehicle breaks down and we do not have the money to repair it, but God provides the money through the benevolence fund at church or through other people (our faith is strengthened)

          • Application

            • How have you seen the display of God’s sovereign power in your life?

            • Has it strengthened your faith?

            • Have you taken time to rejoice and thank the Lord?

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Rejoice in the Lord for displaying His sovereign power in my life.

          • “Nothing can give such deep, lasting satisfaction as the faithfulness of God, demonstrated in the fulfillment of his promises especially, perhaps, after a long time of expectant waiting.” ​​ [Baldwin, The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of Genesis 12-50, 85]

 

  • YOU

    • Are you waiting patiently for the Lord to fulfill His promises to you?

    • What command of God do you need to improve upon?

    • Do you need to rejoice in God’s sovereign power at work in your life?

 

  • WE

    • God has given promises to His church, so we have to wait patiently for His timing

    • God has given His church commands that we need to be following

    • Corporately, we need to rejoice when we see God display His sovereign power in the life of the church

 

CONCLUSION

“We become so used to reading about miracles in the pages of the Bible that it is easy to lose an appreciation for how startling they are. ​​ In an attempt to recover the wonder, let’s take a moment to observe the response to such an occurrence in a modern medical context. ​​ The details of the following account were reported in the Chicago Tribune, September 8, 1981.

 

A woman whose ovaries ceased to function almost three years ago has given birth to a healthy 9-pound baby girl, baffling doctors at three hospitals. ​​ ‘It is impossible, impossible,’ the 35-year-old woman quoted one of the doctors as saying when he detected a fetal heartbeat. ​​ In effect, the birth took place after the woman . . . had gone through menopause, her doctors said.

 

The woman had been diagnosed with premature ovarian failure and was told she did not have to worry about getting pregnant. ​​ A further complication was that the woman was on hormone medications to ease the symptoms of menopause. ​​ These medications typically serve as effective contraceptives. ​​ Dr. Jerry Rakoff, director of the Scripps Clinic Medical Group’s Fertility Center had confirmed the diagnosis of another physician but was also the one who eventually discovered that the patient was pregnant.

 

Rakoff said neither he nor Dr. John Willens, the University Hospital physician who delivered the baby on August 18, had ever heard of birth by a woman with a well-documented case of premature ovarian failure. . . . Rakoff said that there is no medical therapy to reverse premature ovarian failure. ​​ He said that he and Willens believe an egg may have been left after the ovaries shut down.

 

We can see that even in today’s world of medical sophistication, this is a remarkable obstacle for God to overcome.”

 

[Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 499-500]

 

 

How does all of this tie in with Christmas?

Genealogy

  • Matthew 1:1-17

Jesus came just in time

  • Galatians 4:4-5

  • Romans 5:6-8

8

 

Origins

Unstoppable

(Genesis 20:1-18)

 

INTRODUCTION

“On any given night at a bowling alley in America, you might find someone who has bowled a 300, a perfect game. A good bowler on a hot streak can roll 12 consecutive strikes. For a competitive bowler, however, the "holy grail" night is a perfect series—three consecutive perfect games. A 900. In the history of bowling, there have only been 21 perfect series.

 

And Bill Fong was three rolls away from just that—perfection.

 

On a January 18, 2010, league night at the Plano Super Bowl, Bill Fong had rolled 33 consecutive strikes. The crowd of fellow league members stopped to watch, as on frame 34, Bill Fong gathered his ball, walked up, and rolled another strike.

 

And then he rolled another on frame 35, and the crowd went wild.

 

But something was wrong. Two frames back Bill had begun sweating profusely and feeling dizzy. But he was just one roll away from history. Bill pulled the ball to his chest, took his usual five steps, and released the ball perfectly.

 

People actually started applauding before the ball reached the pins. That's how perfect the roll was. It curved exactly where it was supposed to, made contact with the pins at precisely the right spot. Pins flew, the crowd cheered.

 

And the number 10 pin wobbled, but settled back onto its base. Standing.

 

899. One pin short of perfection.

Heartbroken, Bill headed home.

 

The dizziness that began on frame 34 had not improved. Bill staggered into his bathroom and threw up. The walls continued to spin.

 

Bill was having a stroke. Already struggling with high blood pressure, the events of that Monday evening turned a delicate situation into a deadly one.

 

But Bill never realized he had suffered a stroke until he had another one later. His doctor found scar tissue, and was told about the league night.

 

The only thing that saved Bill on the night of the 899? That number 10 pin staying up. Had that last pin fell, Bill's doctor feels certain that his body, already in the midst of a stroke, would have pushed his blood pressure even higher. That, most likely, would have killed Bill immediately on lane 28.

 

What felt like the worst thing that could have happened turned out to be the very thing that saved Bill's life.”

 

Possible Preaching Angles: (1) Sovereignty of God—Although the article did not mention Bill's faith or lack thereof in Christ, we do know that believers can have confidence in God's good and sovereign plans for their lives despite disappointments, confusion, and failures. God may have a better purpose that we can't imagine with our limited perspective. (2) Success and Failure—Sometimes the success we think we must achieve can actually hurt us. And at times it's the apparent "failures" that actually save us from greater harm.

 

Source: Michael J. Mooney, "The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever," D Magazine (July 2012).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2012/october/1101512.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Moving to Birmingham, AL

        • Growing up, our family had always lived in a parsonage

        • From the time I was two-years old until age 17, our family had never owned a home

        • When my parents felt the call to plant a church in Birmingham, AL, we had to find a house to live in

        • That was the first time my parents had ever had to buy a home, so everything was new

        • Grace Ministries was the organization that had the vision to plant multiple churches in Birmingham from various denominations

        • That ministry had a real estate agent associated with it that made himself available to the pastors who were moving

        • He asked my parents what kind of neighborhood that were hoping to reach and then showed our family several houses

        • After seeing the one house all five of us said, “That is the house!”

        • My parents have lived in that house for 34 years

    • God’s plan for our family

        • We knew that God had led us to that particular house

        • The previous owners of the house were both doctors

        • So, you probably guessed it, the wife became our family practice doctor for many years

        • God’s sovereignty was evident through our move from Pennsylvania to Birmingham

        • His plans for us never failed

 

  • WE

    • Every one of us probably has a testimony of when God’s plans have succeeded in our lives

        • Perhaps the testimony is about a relationship

        • Maybe it’s about a financial success

        • It could even be about a job or being accepted to a particular college or university

    • As we look back over our lives, we can probably share multiple stories of how God’s plan didn’t fail us

        • We may not have recognized it at the time

        • Time and hindsight give us clarity and a different perspective

 

It would seem as though time and hindsight had not given Abraham and Sarah clarity. ​​ They use a familiar ruse 25 years later with a different ruler and got similar results. ​​ They were still struggling to trust the Lord with their fears about the people of this new land. ​​ What they learned, again, was that even though their fears caused them to mislead another ruler, God’s plan could not be stopped. ​​ This truth is one that we need to learn and embrace. ​​ We will learn today that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – God’s plans never fail.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 20:1-18)

    • Ruse (vv. 1-2)

        • On the move

          • Most scholars agree that Abraham is moving from his current location, near Hebron, by the trees of Mamre

          • He takes his entire family and clan and moves them to the region of the Negev

            • We are not given the exact location, but rather a between two regions

            • They were staying between Kadesh and Shur

            • [Show map]

            • This was the same region where Hagar had fled to after being mistreated by Sarah (Genesis 16:7)

            • It was here that the Lord spoke to Hagar and promised her many descendants (Genesis 16:8-14)

          • Stay in Gerar

            • While his clan remain in the region of the Negev, it appears that, at least, Abraham and Sarah move north and stay in Gerar

            • Abraham probably left his flocks and herds in the care of his servants in the Negev

          • While they are in Gerar, Abraham uses the same half-truth that he used 25 years earlier with Pharaoh in Egypt

        • Half-truth

          • Abraham tells the people of Gerar that Sarah is his sister

          • We already know that Abraham and Sarah had the same father, but different mothers

          • Because of the half-truth, Abimelech, King of Gerar, sends for, and takes Sarah as part of his harem

            • Sarah is now 89 to 90 years old

            • In the Egyptian episode, Pharaoh took Sarah because of her beauty (Genesis 12:14-16)

            • There is no mention of the reason why Sarah is taken by Abimelech

            • It is perhaps based on the desire of Abimelech to forge “an economic relationship with the Abraham clan” [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 251]

            • Sarah has described herself as “worn out” in Genesis 18:11-13 [Mathews, 252]

            • All of this played an important role in protecting Sarah and preserving God’s plan for the promised son to come from Abraham and Sarah

            • God’s plans never fail

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is patient with His people!

            • We know that God’s plans never fail, but sometimes we, in our humanness, put God through the ringer

              • He has to bring plagues and illness to others in order to preserve His plans

              • He has to threaten death and command that certain things be returned, in order to set things right

            • How have we put God through the ringer as it pertains to His plans for us?

              • I know that, for Judy and I, we moved all over the country and served with various ministries before being obedient to the call to pastoral ministry

              • I know that Judy had to wait 13 years to be a pastors wife (she always thought that was God’s calling for her, when she grew up)

              • What has it looked like for you?

                • What things did you have to go through before submitting to God’s plan for your life?

                • Perhaps you are still putting God through the ringer, because you are resisting His call on your life

                • God’s patience is so amazing!

                  • He is willing to wait on us

                  • He is willing to allow us to go done a different path, until we realize we need to be on His path for our lives

                  • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Thank the Lord for His patience and submit to His plan for my life.

                • God was certainly patient with Abraham and Sarah, even when they used the “sister act” again, 25 years later

          • Their deception had adverse consequences not only for them, but also for others

            • “Charles Spurgeon said, ‘God does not allow His children to sin successfully.’ ​​ When we deliberately disobey God, we suffer both from the consequences of our sins and from the chastening hand of God, unless we repent and submit.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Genesis-Deuteronomy, 96]

            • Read Hebrews 12:5-11

        • We see Abimelech’s reaction to this deception

    • Reaction (vv. 3-13)

        • With God (vv. 3-8)

          • God came to Abimelech in a dream (v. 3)

            • Pharaoh was aware of Abraham’s deception because of the serious diseases that he and his household experienced

            • This time, God uses a dream to expose the ruse

              • Dreams were a common form of communication or revelation in the ancient Near East [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 494]

              • “Dreams were a mode of revelation, even to those outside of the covenant (see 28:12; 31:24; 37:5-9; 40:5; 41:1; Num. 22;9, 20).” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis, A Commentary, 285]

            • God tells Abimelech that he is as good as dead

            • The reason He gives is that the woman he has taken is a married woman

              • Even within the pagan culture, adultery was a serious offense

              • “In Egypt (marriage contracts), Mesopotamia (hymns to Ninurta and Shamash), and Canaan (king of Ugarit extradites and executes his wife), adultery is regularly referred to as ‘the great sin’ and is considered extremely detrimental to society to the extent that it is characteristic of anarchy. ​​ Hittite laws, Middle Assyrian Laws, and the Code of Hammurabi all contain legislation against adultery.” ​​ [Walton, 495]

              • “Mosaic legislation required the death penalty for adultery, both the man and the woman (Lev 20:10; Deut 22:22).” ​​ [Mathews, 252]

                • Leviticus 20:10, “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife – with the wife of his neighbor – both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.”

                • Deuteronomy 22:22, If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. ​​ You must purge the evil from Israel

            • Abimelech realizes the seriousness of God’s revelation to him, and so he pleads his case

          • Abimelech’s plea (vv. 4-5)

            • The narrator tells us that Abimelech had not gone near Sarah, meaning that he had not been intimate with her

            • Abimelech wants to know if God will destroy an innocent nation

              • This is Abimelech’s view of his kingdom

              • But, Abimelech is not saved – he is lost – he is not a follower of God

              • Abraham is a follower of God – he is saved

            • He explains to the Lord that Abraham and Sarah both said that they were brother and sister

            • He confesses that he took Sarah with a clear conscience and clean hands – it was unintentional

            • Abimelech’s sin was one of ignorance and not negligence – there was potential for deliberate action (adultery) without knowledge [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 62]

            • God acknowledges Abimelech’s plea

          • God’s reply and command (vv. 6-7)

            • The dream is still taking place

            • God confirms that Abimelech took Sarah with a clear conscience, but He is the One who kept Abimelech from sinning against Him

              • God kept Abimelech from touching Sarah

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is sovereign!

                • God’s sovereignty means that He has the right to rule and He rules rightly

                • God was completely in control of the circumstances that Abraham and Sarah had created, which had to potential to mess up His plans for the promised son

                • God’s plans never fail

                • He protected the purity of Sarah, by His sovereign power

                • God, in His sovereignty, is in complete control of the circumstances that we create

                • Those circumstances have the potential to mess up His plans for our lives, but God knows exactly what to do to get us back on track

                  • He may be stopping you from touching something

                  • He may be stopping you from moving

                  • He may be stopping you from taking another job

                  • He may be stopping you from looking at certain things

                  • He may be stopping you from pursuing a particular relationship

                  • He may be stopping you from doing something that will be detrimental to you, physically, financially, emotionally, or spiritually

                • Instead of trying to push forward, we need to thank God for stopping us

            • God commands Abimelech to return Sarah to Abraham

              • Abraham is identified as God’s prophet

                • God calls Abraham His prophet

                  • Abraham’s deception has not negated his salvation or standing with God

                  • His deception has not rendered God’s promise void – that all nations will be blessed through Abraham

                  • God will use Abraham and his prayer to bring healing to Abimelech and his household

                • PRINCIPLE #3 – God uses His people in spite of their failures.

                  • Romans 11:29, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable

                  • As Christians, we will still choose to sin sometimes

                  • When we choose to sin, God does not take back the spiritual gifts or the calling that He has placed on our lives

                  • He still uses that calling and those gifts in spite of our sin – for His glory!

                  • “. . . I have found that the thing which hobbles so many people in their service for the Lord is thinking, ‘God can’t use me. ​​ God wouldn’t use me. ​​ God won’t use me because I’ve failed so miserably; I’ve botched it so badly.’ ​​ That’s the voice of the enemy, for the voice of the Lord says, ‘Because you didn’t earn the gifts I gave you or the calling I sovereignly placed upon you, there’s no way you can lose them either.’” ​​ [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament, Volume 1: ​​ Genesis-Job, 84]

                  • Have you been living with the enemy’s lie that God cannot, would not, or will not use you because of your failures?

                  • Today is the day to put that lie in its place, to put that lie to rest

                  • God can, would, and will use your calling and your gifts in spite of your failures

                  • Our testimony and witness may be hurt because of the failures, but our ability to pray for and serve others is not affected

                  • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Reject Satan’s lie and embrace God’s truth that He can, would, and will use me in spite of my failures.

                • God was still going to use Abraham even though he had failed to trust in God’s power to protect him

                • God tells Abimelech the result of not obeying His command

              • Death will be the result of his disobedience

                • If Abimelech refuses to return Sarah to Abraham, he and his household will die

                • That was how serious God was about making sure His plans would not fail

            • Abimelech takes the warning seriously

          • Seeking counsel (v. 8)

            • Abimelech does not waste time seeking the counsel of his officials

            • He is up early and calling his officials together

            • He confides in them about the dream he had

            • His officials took the warning seriously

            • They were very much afraid – they did not want to die because of Abimelech’s ignorance about Sarah

          • We have seen Abimelech’s reaction with God, but we also see his reaction with Abraham

        • With Abraham (vv. 9-13)

          • Abimelech’s questions (vv. 9-10)

            • After consulting with his officials, Abimelech called for Abraham

            • Abimelech peppers Abraham with questions

              • What have you done to us?

              • How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom?

              • What was your reason for doing this?

            • Abimelech also scolds Abraham for doing something to him that should not have been done

          • Abraham’s response (vv. 11-13)

            • Assumption

              • Abraham did not consult the Lord concerning the people of Gerar

              • He assumed they were like all the other inhabitants of the land

              • Keep in mind that Abraham just witnessed the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah along with two other cities in the plain, because the Lord did not find ten righteous people there

              • We see Abraham acting independently of the Lord’s guidance and direction, because of fear and a lapse in faith

              • PRINCIPLE #4 – God is pleased when we trust in Him instead of ourselves.

            • Mode of operation

              • From the time that Abraham set out on his own and separated from his father’s household, he and Sarah have been using the “sister-act” as their standard mode of operation when entering new territories

              • It has worked in the past, so they continue to use it (even 25 years later)

              • Abraham pulls the, “if ​​ you love me,” card and asks Sarah to tell everyone that he is her brother

        • Abimelech must have accepted Abraham’s response to his questions, because he provides reparations to he and Sarah

    • Reparation (vv. 14-16)

        • Pharaoh had given Abraham sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels, and servants prior to knowing the truth about Sarah (perhaps as a bride price)

        • Abimelech gives Abraham sheep, cattle, servants, and first choice of land after he finds out the truth about Sarah (this is recompense)

        • Abimelech obeys the command of the Lord and returns Sarah to Abraham

        • Abimelech also gives Abraham 1,000 shekels of silver

          • That is about 25 pounds of silver

          • This is a very generous amount of silver

          • Mathews points out that Abraham paid 400 shekels of silver for the cave at Machpelah where he buried Sarah (Gen. 23:15-16), Jacob purchased a piece of land in Shechem for 100 pieces of silver (Gen. 33:19), and Joseph was sold into slavery for 20 shekels of silver (Gen. 37:28) ​​ [Mathews, 258]

          • Waltke states, “A Babylonian laborer, usually paid a half shekel per month, would have had to work 167 years to earn such a sum.” ​​ [Waltke, 287]

          • The silver was given to Abraham as a way of restoring Sarah’s honor in the eyes of those who knew about Abimelech taking her into his harem [Waltke, 288]

          • It was done to hide Sarah’s shame [Mathews, 258]

          • Abimelech did not blame Sarah, which is what is meant by her being completely vindicated

        • After reparations are made, Abraham prays for Abimelech and his household

    • Restoration (vv. 17-18)

        • Abraham’s prayer released God’s healing power

        • God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his slave girls

          • We are not told what Abimelech needed healing from, but it probably had something to do with him not being to engage in sexual relations

          • We know that God had closed up every womb in Abimelech’s household, so now the woman would be able to conceive again

        • PRINCIPLE #5 – God answers the prayers of His people on behalf of others.

          • It probably took a long time for Abimelech to trust Abraham

          • He was probably cautious whenever Abraham spoke to him

          • Wiersbe highlights what this one lie cost Abraham [Wiersbe, 97]

            • His character

            • His testimony

            • His ministry (instead of a source of blessing, he was the cause of judgment)

            • He almost lost Sarah and Isaac

            • His peace (he watched Isaac repeat the same lie years later, Gen. 26:7-11)

          • Perhaps our lies have cost us some of the same things

            • We may have lost our character, testimony, and ministry to family and friends

            • They don’t want anything to do with Christianity, because of what we have said or done

            • Fortunately, when we repent of our sins, the Lord forgives us and restores us

            • We still have the ability to bless our family, friends, and even our enemies through prayer

              • “When I pray for my enemies, not only does it release blessing upon them, but it keeps me from getting involved in a cycle of bitterness which will only destroy me.” ​​ [Courson, 86]

              • Matthew 5:43-45a, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ ​​ But I tell you: ​​ Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”

          • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Pray for the healing, prosperity, and well-being of my family, friends, and enemies.

 

  • YOU

    • Do you need to thank the Lord for His patience?

    • Are you ready to submit to the Lord’s plan for your life?

    • Is it time to reject the lie and embrace that God can, would, and will use you in spite of your failures?

    • Whom do you need to pray for today?

  • WE

    • Idaville Church needs everyone to embrace God’s truth that He will use us in spite of our failures – we need everyone to be serving

        • Pastor Marc handed out spiritual gift surveys during the Mission Possible Meeting last week

        • Our hope is that everyone will take the time to complete one of those surveys, so we can serve in our area of giftedness

 

CONCLUSION

“Henri Dunant was a wealthy 19th century Swiss banker. He was sent to Paris by the Swiss government to work on a business deal with Napoleon. He arrived only to be informed that Napoleon was off fighting a war against the Austrians in Solferino, Italy. So Henri Dunant got back into his carriage and set his horses galloping down to the battlefront. He got there just in time to hear the bugles blast and see the thundering charge of Napoleon's troops. Dunant had never before witnessed the ghastly carnage of war. He watched in horror as cannonballs tore through human flesh, and acres of land became heaped with maimed and dying men. Henri Dunant was so devastated that he remained at the front for weeks helping doctors tend to the wounded in churches and nearby farmhouses.

 

After his return to Switzerland, Dunant continued to be haunted by the images of war he had seen in Italy. He could not keep his mind on banking, becoming so distracted that he lost his fortune. Yet even with his career derailed and his plans askew, he had a sense of God's sovereignty in all that had occurred. Of this time he later wrote: ‘I was aware of an intuition, vague and yet profound, that [this was] God's Will; it seemed to me that I had [something] to accomplish…as a sacred duty and that it was destined to have fruits of infinite consequence for mankind.’

 

And indeed it was. Out of his depression and failure—after following the wrong road to Italy—Henri Dunant founded the Red Cross, which has saved millions and millions of lives and given aid to countless victims of war and disaster over the years. For establishing this organization, he received the first Nobel Peace Prize.”

 

Source: Victor D. Pentz, from the sermon "A Hobo's Heart: How Wrong Roads Often Lead to the Right Places."

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2004/august/15490.html]

13

 

Origins

The Issue with Isolation

(Genesis 19:30-38)

 

INTRODUCTION

“For two of his five years in a Vietnamese POW camp, Senator John McCain was locked in a tiny isolation cell, cut off from all human contact. He was beaten regularly and then denied adequate medical treatment for two broken arms, a broken leg, and chronic dysentery. But for McCain something was far worse than physical pain—the pain of isolation. McCain said, ‘[Isolation] crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance more effectively than any other form of mistreatment.’

 

Medical doctor Atul Gawande points to McCain's experience and then describes a study of nearly 150 U.S. naval aviators who returned from imprisonment in Vietnam: they reported that social isolation was as agonizing as any abuse they had suffered. But what happened to them was physical. EEG studies going back to the 1960s have shown diffuse slowing of brain waves in prisoners after a week or more of solitary confinement

 

Gawande writes:

 

Some prisoners whose only social contact was a food tray shoved through a slot became catatonic or developed autistic features. … Still others had panic attacks or became extraordinarily aggressive. These symptoms suggest neurological damage. Neuroimaging studies confirm that isolation creates the same level of activity in the brain as does physical distress; the neural signs of social pain look a lot like the signals created by physical pain. Even months after they were released, MRIs of prisoners of war in the former Yugoslavia showed the gravest neurological damage in those prisoners who had been locked in solitary confinement. Without sustained social interaction, the human brain may become as impaired as one that has incurred a traumatic head injury.”

 

Source: Adapted from Susan Pinker, The Village Effect, (Spiegel and Grau, 2014), pg. 100-101.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2015/march/6031615.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Family Life, Weekend To Remember

        • Judy and I have attended the Weekend To Remember for many years now

        • It’s a great way for us to stay connected to the Lord and to each other

        • “If couples are not intentionally moving toward oneness, their marriages will drift toward isolation.” ​​ [Weekend To Remember Manual, 20]

        • “The goal of marriage is not isolation; it’s oneness.” [Weekend To Remember Manual, 20]

        • The natural drift toward isolation

          • Romantic phase (dating or honeymoon)

          • Reality phase (honeymoon or early marriage)

          • Renovation phase (working over our spouse to adapt to their own preferences)

          • Retaliation phase (resentment and bitterness turn into hurtful words and actions)

          • Rejection phase (emotional separation or divorce)

        • The path to oneness . . . leads to hope

          • God’s purpose for marriage

          • God’s plan for marriage

          • God’s power for marriage

          • God’s process for marriage

          • God’s product for marriage

        • Our desire and goal as a married couple is to intentionally move toward oneness

 

  • WE

    • How have we experienced isolation in our lives?

        • Dating

        • Marriage

        • Work

        • School

        • Church

    • What has that isolation done to us?

        • We may not think clearly

        • We may make decisions that we would not otherwise make

        • We can become irrational, agitated, angry, aggressive, frustrated, depressed, anxious, hopeless, suicidal, etc.

 

Today finishes the story of Lot and his family. ​​ He is not mentioned again in the Genesis account. ​​ We will see that he and his two daughters were isolated from the rest of society and the effect that had in their lives. ​​ Isolation caused them to compromise their morality. ​​ We will learn today that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Compromise leads to immorality.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 19:30-38)

    • Move to Isolation (v. 30)

        • Out of fear, Lot and his two daughters leave Zoar (tso’ar/tso’air) and head to the mountains

          • We’re not given the reason for Lot’s fear of staying in Zoar

          • We can speculate and say that perhaps he noticed, rather quickly, that Zoar was just as wicked as Sodom and he knew the end result of that

          • It is possible that Lot believed that God would also destroy Zoar sooner than later and he didn’t want to try to establish a dwelling there, only to be uprooted again

        • It was out of fear that Lot had petitioned the angels to allow him to flee to Zoar instead of the mountains

        • Now we find Lot and his daughters right where they were originally supposed to be

          • It is amazing how that happens, right?

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s plan is always best for us.

            • Has that ever happened to you?

              • God has made it clear to you what He wants you to do or where he wants you to go

              • In our humanness, we believe we know better than God, so we don’t obey His Word immediately

              • Instead we try to accomplish it a different way or try to do something completely different

              • Many times, when we finally come to our senses, we obey the Lord’s original message to us and find ourselves right where we were supposed to be

              • Sometimes that journey is short, while other times it is long and difficult

              • I do not know about you, but the older I get, the shorter those journeys become, because I have learned to follow the Lord, first, and not try to do my plan

            • Where are you at today?

              • Are you on a long, difficult path right now, because you are trying to do something in opposition to what God has told you?

              • Remember Jonah’s story (went opposite direction, endangered others because of his rebellion, spent 3 days in the belly of a large fish, got regurgitated onto land, repented, and finally he obeyed the Lord and went to Ninevah)

              • Do you need to recognize that God’s plan is best for you?

              • Do you need to abandon your plans and begin following God’s plan?

              • Are you glad that God is loving, compassionate, forgiving, and patient?

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Acknowledge that I am following my own plan instead of God’s, and begin to follow God’s plan, today.

        • My guess is that God’s plan to move Lot to an isolated location was completely different than the outcome we will see in a moment

        • Lot moved out of a nice home in Sodom and is now living in a cave

        • PRINCIPLE #2 – God’s design for His people is relationship and fellowship, not isolation.

        • What we see next is how isolation can cause us to become irrational

    • Isolation Irrationality (vv. 31-32)

        • The older daughter recognizes that their father is old, which likely means that they believe he will not remarry (there is no hope of additional siblings)

        • No man around here

          • “To the best of the daughters’ knowledge, the loss of life at Sodom has been total: ​​ there is not a man on earth to come into us.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 51]

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – Isolation breeds misinformation.

            • We see this with the two daughters

              • Even though Zoar is not destroyed they still feel like they are the only people left on earth

              • If their fiancés’ in Sodom were any indication of the moral fiber of the men in Zoar, then they probably didn’t even consider them as potential husbands

              • Certainly they were aware of Abraham and Ishmael by this point

              • There were also many other towns and cities besides the five cities in the plains

            • We saw this with the pandemic shut downs in our own country

              • When we were isolated, our only form of information was from the major news outlets

              • The isolation that we experienced only bred misinformation

              • It was difficult to know what was true and trustworthy and what was not

              • Were certain prophylactic (preventive) drugs successful against the coronavirus or not?

              • Certain viewpoints and beliefs were labeled as “misinformation” and some individuals were “cancelled”

              • While in isolation we were left to figure it out on our own, which bred misinformation and fear

              • The misinformation and fear then caused some people to think and act irrationally

            • When have you experienced misinformation, because of being isolated?

              • It happens in our work environment when we have to work remotely

              • It can happen in our families when we live far apart

              • It can happen at church when we aren’t able to attend consistently (we hear news about the church, second-hand, with the individuals perspective and understanding of what they heard, which may not always be accurate)

              • It can happen with our friends when we text them and they misread or misunderstand what we were saying (sometimes we miss a text or don’t receive it immediately after it is sent, which can breed fear and anxiety about what the other person is thinking)

              • It can happen at school, if we miss several days (we may not get the right information about what is due and when)

            • When we are misinformed, we can become irrational in our thinking and actions, which is what we will see in verses 32-35

            • The only way to combat misinformation is to go to the source

              • Judy does a great job with this, and then she keeps me informed

              • During the election cycle, she would try to listen to the whole speech from a candidate instead of listening to the opinion pieces or media spin

              • When she did that she avoided the hazard of misinformation and therefore could make an intelligent decision about which candidates to vote for

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Avoid misinformation and becoming irrational, through regular fellowship with others.

          • The two daughters were perhaps not even in fellowship with the Lord, which is evident by their statement about the customs all over the earth

        • Custom all over the earth

          • The daughters were looking to the customs of their society to dictate and justify what they were about to do

          • They were not relying on the Lord to provide a miraculous and moral solution to their problem

          • How many of us would admit that sometimes we have chosen the societal customs of the earth to dictate and justify our irrational behaviors and/or decisions

          • We do not rely on the Lord to provide a miraculous and moral solution to our problem

          • I want to encourage us, today, to rely on the Lord to help solve our problems – turn to Him in prayer, read His Word, seek the advice of godly family members and friends

          • That is not what Lot’s two daughters did, instead they turned to trickery

        • Trickery

          • The two daughters know that what they are proposing is immoral, which is why they conspire to get their father drunk

          • Compromise leads to immorality

          • “The intent to ‘preserve our family line’ (vv. 32, 34) was honorable, but the means of incest was deplorable (e.g., Lev 18:6-18; cp. Tamar 38:13-26). ​​ That it was so understood by the daughters themselves explains why they had to trick their father through drink.” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 245]

          • Read Leviticus 18:6-18

        • While their desire to have a family was not immoral, the way in which they proposed to have a family was

    • Isolation Immorality (vv. 33-35)

        • Lot’s two daughters got their father to drink wine two nights in a row

          • The first night, the older daughter went in and laid down with him – she had sexual relations with him

          • The second night, the younger daughter went in and laid down with him – she too had sexual relations with him

          • To even think about what they are doing should make our skin crawl

          • That is what compromise does, it leads to immorality – it makes us think that what is immoral is acceptable (the ends justify the means)

          • “Earlier the father was willing to use his daughters for sexual purposes without their consent. ​​ Now they will use their father for sexual purposes without his consent.” ​​ [Hamilton, 51]

        • PRINCIPLE #4 – Isolation can lead to immorality.

          • Lot’s two daughters knew that no one else was around to judge or hold them accountable for their actions

          • The other inhabitants in the region would never have to know how they became pregnant

          • Isolation can do the same thing for us

            • The internet and personal devices have allowed us to be isolated, even in a crowd (we completely ignore those around us, while we on our phones/devices)

            • We can lock our phones so no one else can access them to see what we have been looking at

            • We can even browse the internet with the “private” setting engaged, so that no one will know what we have been searching for

            • We can engage in emotional affairs online, without having to really tell the other person who we are

            • The move to isolation has taken a major toll on the morality of our society

            • If anyone is struggling with immorality because of isolation, I want to encourage you find an accountability partner that will ask you the tough questions, that will be there for you when you are tempted to give in to immoral behaviors

            • God did not design us to live in isolation, but rather in fellowship with others

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Admit that I am dealing with immorality, and commit to finding an accountability partner.

          • Lot’s two daughters had allowed isolation to lead them to irrational decisions about immorality

        • Lot was not even aware of what had happened with he and his daughters

        • We are not told if Lot every found out how his daughters became pregnant, but we see the results of their isolation immorality

    • Result of Isolation (vv. 36-38)

        • Both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant

        • Lot’s descendants

          • Older daughter

            • Moab

              • “‘Moab’ was apparently derived from the combination of min (‘from’) plus ʾāb (‘father’), which becomes mēʾāb, ‘from [my] father (v. 37); mēʾāb is a reflection of the previous mēʾăbîhen (v. 36), meaning lit., ‘from their father.’” ​​ [Mathews, 245]

              • The older daughter was not very discreet in naming her son

            • Moabites

              • Moab’s descendants became the Moabites

              • “The Moabites worshipped a fertility god and indulged in orgies which beguiled the Israelites on their way into the promised land (Nu. 25).” ​​ [Baldwin, The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of Genesis 12-50, 80]

              • They caused the Israelites all kinds of problems as they attempted to possess the Promised Land, and yet, God protected the Moabites from the Israelites

              • Deuteronomy 2:9, Then the Lord said to me, “Do not harass the Moabites or provoke them to war, for I will not give you any part of their land. ​​ I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession.

            • The younger daughter probably followed in her sisters footsteps

          • Younger daughter

            • Ben-Ammi

              • “‘Ben-Ammi,’ born to the younger daughter (v. 38), is ‘son of my [paternal] kinsmen’ or singular ‘kinsman.’” ​​ [Mathews, 245]

              • The younger daughter was no less creative or discreet in naming her son

            • Ammonites

              • Ben-Ammi’s descendants became the Ammonites

              • “Ammon became noted for cruelty not only in war (Am. 1:13) but even in religious observance (Lv. 18:21), for Molech was the Ammonite god who demanded child sacrifice.” ​​ [Baldwin, 80]

              • They too caused the Israelites headaches, but God also protected their land

              • Deuteronomy 2:19, “When you come to the Ammonites, do not harass them or provoke them to war, for I will not give you possession of any land belonging to the Ammonites, I have given it as a possession to the descendants of Lot.”

          • While Lot was unaware of when his daughters came in to him to lay with him, my guess is that he knew what had happened when both daughters became pregnant at the same time and then named their sons the way they did

        • Through this Bible passage today, we have learned that isolation can cause us to think and act irrationally and that compromise leads to immorality

 

  • YOU

    • Are you currently on a long and difficult path, because you have chosen your plan over God’s plan?

    • Have you given in to irrational behavior due to misinformation and the lack of fellowship

    • Do you need to find an accountability partner to help you with immorality in your life?

 

  • WE

    • As a body of believers, we need to seek God’s face for His plan for Idaville Church and not allow our plans to take precedence

    • We need to make sure that misinformation does not spread by going to the sourced

    • God’s Word tells us not the neglect meeting together (Heb. 10:25), so we need to make sure we are obeying God’s Word – the fellowship of believers is so important

 

CONCLUSION

“The Europeans who came to settle North America found it vast and unexplored. ‘Self-reliant’ was the watchword, and the scout, the mountain man or pioneer, with his axe and rifle over his shoulder, became the national hero.

 

In the early days the government gave away quarter sections of land to anyone who would homestead, in order to encourage settlement. People flocked west from crowded cities and villages to have their own land at last. Before they could farm the land they had chosen, their first job was to build a sod hut to live in, and most families built them right smack-dab in the middle of their quarter section. The reason was obvious. People who had never owned land before had a new sense of pride and ownership. They wanted to feel that everything they saw belonged to them.

 

But that custom changed quickly. This chosen isolation did strange things to people. Occasionally, photographers went out to record life on the frontier and returned with photographs of weird men, wild-eyed women, and haunted-looking children. Before long most of these families learned to move their houses to one corner of their property to live in proximity with three other families who also lived on the corners of their property. Four families living together, sharing life and death, joy and sorrow, abundance and want, had a good chance of making it.”

 

Source: Chuck Swindoll, Dropping Your Guard (Word Books, 1983), p. 23; quoting Bruce Larson, There's a Lot More to Health Than Not Being Sick.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2003/october/14641.html]

10

 

Origins

The Consequence of Compromise

(Genesis 19:1-14)

 

INTRODUCTION

“For the past eight years, Kim McClain, has been a research scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies. She has traveled to hard-hit cities and towns to understand why people got killed in storms that she says ‘really should be survivable as long as people can get to the right shelter.’

 

In an interview with NPR, McClain was asked to explain why people failed to heed weather warnings:

 

We give people days of alert that their general region may be threatened. But people are really savvy about this. They know that even if a region in general is at risk, that doesn't necessarily mean there will be a tornado that hits their house. So people wait until things get quite close until they make those calls. For tornadoes, they typically wait until they're under a warning and then there are just a couple of minutes. Then all they can really do is shelter in place.

 

People are doing what we call ‘confirming the threat.’ And they do this … on a continuous basis. They'll be watching, and maybe they'll go get their children. But they won't necessarily take shelter until things get a little bit closer.”

 

Rebecca Ellis, “What Makes People Heed A Weather Warning - Or Not?” NPR (3-2-19).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2019/july/why-warnings-are-not-heeded.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Confirming the threat

        • I have totally done that when we lived in Missouri

        • The tornado sirens would go off and I would wait outside and look around to see if I could actually see a tornado

        • Judy, on the other hand, would immediately scoop up the boys and head to the basement

        • FYI – I never got to see a tornado

    • Wildfires in California

        • It was different when we lived in California with the wildfires

        • We had a container packed, ready to go with all of our valuable information and keepsakes in case we were evaluated

        • The wildfires scared me more than a potential tornado, because it was something I wasn’t familiar with

 

  • WE

    • Every one of us can probably remember a time when we did not heed the warning signs

        • Perhaps it was a medical warning sign that we didn’t heed

        • Maybe it was a financial warning sign

        • Remember Y2K and the preparations that most people made

        • The COVID-19 pandemic was another situation where we had to heed some warnings and prepare

    • What was the result of not heeding those warnings?

 

The warnings that Lot and his family received were not just signs, but actual verbal warnings. ​​ How would they respond to these warnings? ​​ As we will see, Lot and his family were considered righteous, which is why they were being warned about the coming destruction of Sodom. ​​ When Lot tried to stop a morally offensive act from happening to his two guests and when he tried to warn his future sons-in-law, they rejected him and his warnings. ​​ The reason this happened is that Lot had compromised his beliefs. ​​ He was not taken seriously, because he had not led his family well, as the spiritual head of the household. ​​ The citizens of Sodom did not respect him because he had compromised. ​​ What we will learn from this passage of Scripture today is that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Compromise weakens our witness.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 19:1-14)

    • Welcomed guests (vv. 1-3)

        • Angels arrive (v. 1a)

          • The narrator tells us that the angels arrived in the evening

            • The journey from Abraham’s camp to Sodom would have been between 18-20 miles

            • That distance would have been humanly impossible from the afternoon at Abraham’s to the evening with Lot

            • There are two explanations for this timeframe

              • There were several days that have passed between the angels leaving, in Gen. 18:22, and their arrival, in Gen. 19:1

              • It is also conceivable that being heavenly beings, they could have made the trip, supernaturally, in just a couple of hours

              • Fortunately, the time frame is not what is most important in this passage of Scripture – rather it is what is going to happen while the two angels are there

          • The angels obviously have to enter through the gateway, which is where Lot is sitting

        • Lot’s location (v. 1b)

          • The fact that Lot is sitting in the gateway is significant

            • “The gate, generally an arched entrance with deep recesses and seats on either side, was a place of meeting in the ancient towns of the East . . .” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 148]

            • The gateway was where the inhabitants of the city would meet to discuss what was going on in the city, a place where business transactions would take place, legal matters would be handled, and political affairs were discussed

            • “The gate was the physical symbol of collective authority and power.” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis, A Commentary, 275]

          • This shows that Lot was potentially one of the leaders of Sodom and had some authority

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when we hold to the truths of His Word and not compromise.

            • This principle is evident throughout this passage of Scripture, so we will be revisiting it again in verses 3 and 8

            • In verse 1 the principle is found indirectly

              • In fact we have to look back to Genesis 13 to see the beginning of Lot compromising

              • First, Lot looked at Sodom, Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. ​​ (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) ​​ So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. (Gen. 13:10-11)

              • Second, Lot pitched his tents near Sodom, Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. ​​ Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord. (Gen. 13:12-13)

              • Third, Lot moved into Sodom, They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom. (Gen. 14:12)

              • Finally, Lot has become part of the leadership structure in Sodom . . . and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. (Gen. 19:1b)

            • Lot knew the spiritual condition of the people of Sodom and he willingly compromised on the commands of God in order to live there

              • It would have been different if God had called Lot to live in Sodom and be a witness for Him, but that was not the case

              • “God put Joseph in Egypt, Daniel in Babylon, and Esther in Persia; and their presence turned out to be a blessing. ​​ Worldliness is not a matter of physical geography but of heart attitude (1 John 2:15-17). ​​ Lot’s heart was in Sodom long before his body arrived there. ​​ No doubt he got his first love for the world when he went to Egypt with Abraham (Gen. 13:1, 10), and he never overcame it.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bile Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 93]

            • Abraham had separated himself from the evil inhabitants of the plains, which enabled him to have a close relationship and communion with God (2 Cor. 6:14-18; John 14:21-24) [Wiersbe, 93]

          • Application

            • Have we compromised the truths of God’s Word in order to enjoy the things of this world?

              • We can compromise the truths of God Word with our speech

                • I cannot tell you how often I heard people say, “Cussing is not a sin,” or “Cussing won’t keep me out of heaven/send me to hell.”

                • This is how we justify our desire to use foul/filthy language

                • Ephesians 4:29, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

                • Ephesians 5:3-4, But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. ​​ Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

                • Colossians 3:8, But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: ​​ anger, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

                • James 3:10, Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. ​​ My brothers, this should not be.

                • Matthew 12:36, But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken

              • We can compromise the truths of God’s Word by our actions

                • We may act one way while at church

                • We may act completely different at home, work, or with our friends

                • Perhaps we have taken something that does not belong to us

              • We can compromise the truths of God’s Word by our attitudes

                • We may harbor bitterness toward someone else

                • We may be unwilling to forgive someone who has hurt us (physically, emotionally, mentally, verbally)

                • We may not love one another as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her

              • We can compromise the truths of God’s Word by what we allow ourselves to watch or look at

              • We can compromise the truths of God’s Word by what we approve as culturally acceptable

                • Premarital sex

                • Living together before marriage

                • Abortion

                • Same-sex marriage

                • Substance use/abuse

            • We have to recognize when we have compromised the truths of God’s Word in order to embrace the things of this world

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord to show me how I have compromised the truths of His Word and confess that to Him.

          • As Lot is sitting in the gateway, he sees the two angels arrive and approaches them

        • Lot’s hospitality (1c-3)

          • Lot bowed with his face to ground

          • He invites them to his home

            • At his home, he would make sure their feet would be washed

            • He was also offering them a place to sleep

            • They would be able to leave early in the morning

          • At first they refused his hospitality

            • They told Lot that they would spend the night in the square

            • In most ancient cities, the square was a safe place to spend the night

            • It was certainly safer than sleeping out in the countryside

          • Lot strongly insisted that they stay with him

            • Lot was aware of the wickedness that took place after dark in the city square, especially when people from out of town were around

            • This speaks again of Lot’s willingness to compromise his beliefs and witness in Sodom

            • He tolerated the wickedness instead of confronting it or fleeing from it

              • Flee from sexual immorality. ​​ All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. (1 Cor. 6:18)

              • Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22)

              • But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. (James 1:14)

            • Compromise weakens our witness

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when we hold to the truths of His Word and not compromise.

          • Lot provided the two angels with a meal that included unleavened bread

        • After they had eaten, but before they had gone to bed, Lot’s greatest fear for the two angels came true

    • Unwelcomed guests (vv. 4-9)

        • Everyone was wicked

          • The description of those involved help us understand that wickedness and sinfulness had permeated the entire city

          • It was not just one section of the city (the slums or the wealthy section

          • It was not just one age group/generation (it was young and old)

          • It was probably not every man in the city, since Lot has to go out to talk with his sons-in-law (we will see that in verse 14)

        • Homosexual rape

          • The men call out to Lot and a demand that he hand over the two men who came to him

          • The reason they give to Lot is so they can have sex/relations with them

          • It appears as though they would have sex with them whether the two men consented to it or not (rape)

          • “The city is guilty here of two crimes: ​​ violation of guests and unnatural lust. ​​ The men of the city cry not just for homosexuality but for rape. . . . They rape the mind, emotions, and body, trivialize the sacred, and legitimatize the vulgar. ​​ Homosexuality is a capital offense in the Old Testament (Lev. 18:22; 20:13). ​​ The sin of Sodom’s act is presumably the worst sort of sexual offense: ​​ homosexual gang rape (cf. Judg. 19; Jude 7).” ​​ [Waltke, 276]

          • There are individuals who try to say that what is being talked about in Genesis 19 is not homosexuality, but just wanting to get to know the two men

            • This is a weak attempt to trivialize the sacred and legitimatize the vulgar

            • It is talking about homosexual rape

            • The Lord would not have destroyed Sodom because all the men wanting to get to know the two visitors

            • There is a movement within evangelicalism that is trying to argue that the Bible affirms, or at least does not prohibit, same-sex sexual relationships. But renowned progressive New Testament scholar Luke Timothy Johnson disagrees with this approach, even though he himself also holds an affirming position.

              He writes, ‘I have little patience with efforts to make Scripture say something other than what it says, through appeals to linguistic or cultural subtleties. The exegetical situation is straightforward: we know what the text says.’

              He continues:

              I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us.”

              Possible Preaching Angle: ​​ While we disagree with Johnson’s conclusions, we have to admire his intellectual integrity. On this subject of same-sex sexual relationships, the Bible is clear: “We know what the text says.” The only question is whether that is the authority one chooses to live by.

              Source: ​​ Luke Timothy Johnson, “Homosexuality & The Church” Commonweal Magazine (6-11-07)

              [https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2020/august/progressive-scholar-says-bible-is-clear-about-sexual-sin.html]

            • “Now here's something you don't see every day: in the wake of Ireland's landslide victory to allow same-sex marriages in their country, journalist Matthew Paris, who calls himself ‘a (gay) atheist,’ publicly laments the church's wishy-washiness.

              Paris writes, ‘Even as a (gay) atheist, I wince to see the philosophical mess that religious conservatives are making of their case. Is there nobody of any intellectual stature left in [the church] to frame the argument against Christianity's slide into just going with the flow of social and cultural change?’

              Paris continues his lament: ‘Can't these Christians see that the moral basis of their faith cannot be sought in the pollsters' arithmetic? ...Would it have occurred for a moment to Moses (let alone God) that he'd better defer to Moloch-worship because that's what most of the Israelites wanted to do? … It must surely be implicit in the claim of any of the world's great religions that on questions of morality, a majority may be wrong; but this should be vividly evident to Christians in particular: they need only consider the fate of their Messiah, and the persecution of adherents to the Early Church. 'Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you,' says Paul.’

              Possible Preaching Angle: ​​ Well, okay, that was actually Jesus who said that, not Paul. But Paris raises some tough questions for the church.

              Source: ​​ Matthew Parris, “As a gay atheist, I want to see the church oppose same-sex marriage,” The Spectator (5-26-15)

              [https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2015/june/gay-atheist-laments-churchs-moral-slide.html]

          • The Church’s response

            • Two extremes

              • Going with the flow of social and cultural change

              • Condemning and ostracizing those who struggle with same-sex attraction

            • Balance

              • Tolerance doesn’t work, because tolerating someone else’s viewpoint or belief means that I have to sacrifice my viewpoint or belief – I’m intolerant of my own viewpoint

              • Compromise weakens our witness

              • Jesus modeled the perfect balance – love

                • We can love everyone, regardless of their viewpoint or beliefs

                • Love does not require that we embrace, approve, ​​ or tolerate a viewpoint or belief that is contrary to God’s Word

                • The Church has failed a whole section of our society, because we have either gone with the flow or condemned those who struggle with same-sex attraction – neither of these approaches are loving

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Repent of either legitimatizing or ostracizing those who struggle with same-sex attraction, and choose to love as Jesus would.

          • While the crowd is pressing Lot to hand over the two men, he provides a compromise

        • Lot’s compromise

          • Lot goes outside to talk with the men of Sodom and encourages them not to do this wicked thing

          • He then offers his two virgin daughters as a compromise

            • Compromise weakens our witness

            • This compromise was not going to satisfy the sexual deviant desires of the crowd

            • Lot did not have any real influence over the crowd, even as one of their leaders

            • They saw him as weak alien

        • The crowd’s response

          • We want what we want

            • “Get out of our way!”

            • “Who are you to judge us, you foreigner?”

            • “You’re no better than us!”

            • “We’ll treat you worse than the two men.”

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – Our actions, when confronted with our sin, show our heart.

            • The men of Sodom were not repentant, instead they retaliated against Lot

            • How do we react when someone confronts us about our sin?

              • Repentance

                • “If you brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. ​​ If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. ​​ But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ ​​ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17)

                • Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you – even Jesus. (Acts 3:19-20)

                • Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. ​​ The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

              • Retaliation

                • “‘No longer were their shameful sins tolerated by a permissive society as something people had a right to practice if they pleased. ​​ It had gone far beyond that. ​​ Now the people were an open, aggressive, insistent force in the city with which none dared interfere. ​​ For their behavior was not looked upon by the Sodomites as criminal but as constitutional. ​​ They had the constitutional right to indulge their passion when and where they wished and any attempt to thwart them could be expected to lead to open riot in the city (Phillips, 161).’ ​​ The parallel with modern Western culture should chill us to the bone.” [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 168]

                • Our natural inclination is to defend ourselves

                • It is not pleasant to be confronted by our sin

                • We all know our greatest temptation and so does Satan

                • When it is exposed there is anger, but also relief

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord to help me humbly repent when confronted with my sin.

          • The crowd pushed forward against Lot, so they could reach the door and break it down

        • Lot will soon find out who these two men really are

    • Saved by the guests (vv. 10-14)

        • The two men opened the door just enough to grab Lot and pull him back inside

        • Miraculous salvation

          • The two angels then strike the crowd of men with blindness, so they could not find the door

          • There would probably have been a courtyard with a gate between the crowd and the actual front door

          • Perhaps the crowd is groping around in the courtyard trying to find the front door, without success

        • Other family members?

          • The two angels ask Lot if he has any other family in the city

          • They encourage him to get them out of the city, because they are going to destroy it

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is merciful!

            • The Lord is allowing Lot the opportunity to warn his other family members

            • This again shows God’s mercy at work

          • PRINCIPLE #4 – God is just!

            • While God is merciful, He is also just

            • The two angels have witnessed enough

            • They have proven that there are not even ten righteous people in Sodom, so destruction is inevitable

            • Lot now knew that these two men were more than men, they were the Lord’s emissaries

        • Warning

          • Lot went to his sons-in-law, who were presumably engaged to his two virgin daughters

          • He tells them to get out of the city quickly, because the Lord was about to destroy it

          • His sons-in-law didn’t take him seriously and thought he was joking

          • Once again, we see that compromise had weakened Lot’s witness

            • His two sons-in-law thought he was joking

            • They probably had not seen Lot modeling a life fully committed to the Lord

            • He was a righteous man, that had allowed the enticements of his world to have priority in his life

            • He had compromised in order to remain living in Sodom, which caused his witness to be weak

          • The same can be said of us

            • When we compromise in our world, our witness will also be weak

            • Those around us (at work, in our neighborhood, our friends) will not listen to our warnings about God’s coming destruction

            • Even some of our own family will not listen to our warnings

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when we hold to the truths of His Word and not compromise.

            • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Hold onto the truths of God’s Word and not compromise.

 

  • YOU

    • Where have your compromised the truths of God’s Word – confess that before the Lord

    • Do you love those who are struggling with same-sex attraction or have you legitimatized or ostracized them?

    • How do you react when confronted with your sin? ​​ (Repentance or Retaliation)

    • Are you holding to the truths of God’s Word or are you compromising?

 

  • WE

    • As a body of believers, we need to hold to the truths of God’s Word, no matter what

    • We need to model love instead of acceptance or rejection

    • We need to model repentance instead of retaliation when confronted with our sin

 

CONCLUSION

In a sermon, the Reverend Ethan Magness quoted the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard who told this parable:

 

A crowded theater hosted a variety show, with various acts in it. Each act was more fantastic than the one prior, so it created louder and louder applause from the audience. Suddenly, a clown rushed on to the stage and said, “I apologize for this interruption, but I regret to inform you that our theater is on fire! You need to leave right away, and in an orderly fashion.”

 

But the audience thought he was part of the act, so they laughed and applauded. They thought he was very committed to the role. But the clown again implored them that they needed to leave right away or they would get seriously injured, maybe even die. And again, they greeted him with loud and thunderous applause. At last, he could do no more, and so he left the building, and the people were destroyed.

And Kierkegaard concludes in this sobering way: ‘Our age will go down in fiery destruction not to the sound of mourning but to applause and cheering.’”

 

Source:

Rev. Ethan Magness, Sermon: “The Theater is on Fire,” Grace Anglican Church (12-1-19).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2020/july/theater-is-on-fire.html]

12

 

Origins

A Whittle Bit Of Mercy

(Genesis 18:16-33)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Mike Krzyzewski's decision to remain as coach of the Duke University basketball team rather than to become head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers was influenced in part by an e-mail from Duke student Andrew Humphries, a 19-year-old biology major. In his e-mail, Humphries recounted childhood memories of playing basketball in his driveway and pretending to hit the shot that won the national championship for Coach K. He spoke of the pride he felt in being part of the ‘sixth man’ student body at Duke that fills Cameron Indoor Stadium to root for their team. He closed his message with the impassioned plea, ‘Please still be my coach.’

 

In a press conference announcing his decision, Krzyzewski said that Humphries' e-mail had moved him to tears and reminded him of the special bond he felt with the Duke students and his players. The coach chose to turn down a $40 million contract offer and stay at Duke, influenced by the petition of a student he didn't even know.”

 

Source: AP Reports (7-6-04).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2004/october/15558.html]

 

The petition of one student who represented the student body influenced coach K. ​​ We will see God’s mercy being influenced by one man who represented the people of the plains.

 

As we think about mercy, it is defined as not getting what we deserve.

 

BODY

  • ME

    • State Police in MO

        • Judy and I attended church with a State Police Officer when we lived in Missouri

        • He told us that when he pulled over a person who had fish sticker on their car (the fish sticker meaning they were a follower of Jesus Christ) he would ask them if they went to church

        • If they responded positively, he would share with them what the total of the citation would be and then gave them a warning instead of a ticket

        • He would ask them to give the amount of the citation to their church

        • This was mercy in action

        • They deserved to pay the citation and have points added to their license, but this police officer did not give them what they deserved

        • Instead he gave them a warning and a challenge

        • His hope was that they would learn to represent Jesus Christ well by obeying the speed limit laws and that they would use the mercy extended to them to bless their church

 

  • WE

    • When have you received mercy from someone else?

    • When have you extended mercy to someone else?

 

Perhaps one of the most difficult things for human beings to understand about the Lord is His ability to be both loving and just. ​​ We only want to think about God being loving, because His justice means He has to punish those who are wicked. ​​ It is difficult for us to comprehend that God can be perfectly loving and perfectly just at the same time. ​​ The reason we struggle with that concept is that we are incapable of doing that in our humanness. ​​ We will learn today that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – God is both righteous and merciful.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 18:16-33)

    • Insider Information (vv. 16-21)

        • Rested and refreshed

          • The three men have been refreshed by Abraham’s extravagant hospitality

          • They have been able to rest under the shade of the trees at Mamre

          • They are ready to continue their journey

          • They already know where they are going, which is why they look down to Sodom

          • Abraham continues his hospitality by walking along with them for a period of time

            • It is perhaps three miles that they walk together as they head toward Beni Naʿim (vay-knee neye-eem)

            • This town is three miles east of Hebron and allows for a view into the valley of the Dead Sea that is 18 miles to the south

            • [show picture 1 of Beni Naʿim]

            • [show picture 2 of Beni Naʿim]

          • The Lord and His two angels knew why they were traveling in this region, even though Abraham did not

          • But that was about to change

        • Internal conversation?

          • The Lord is having an internal conversation with Himself concerning whether or not to tell Abraham about the reason why He is in the region

          • The rationale for telling Abraham

            • “Divine call and promise” [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 222]

              • The first rationale for telling Abraham is because of his divine call and the promise from the Lord

              • Genesis 12:3-4, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. ​​ I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

              • “To be blessed in this context means to have one who intercedes before God regarding one’s destiny, to have one who ‘makes intercession for the transgressor’ (Isa. 53:12).” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 18]

                • Hang on to this idea as we get to verses 22-33

                • This is a significant concept that we don’t want to miss

              • Abraham will learn justice through what the Lord is about to do

              • “Such a nation has to learn justice beginning with its father, Abraham (18:17-19). ​​ The Lord models justice to Abraham in his treatment of the Sodomites (18:20-33) and through this remarkable dialogue he educes [brings out and develops] Abraham’s integrity.” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis, A Commentary, 269]

              • But there is a second rationale for telling Abraham about His plan

            • “Divine election of the man” [Mathews, 223]

              • Chosen

                • The Hebrew word for chosen literally means “known”

                • It means that Abraham and the Lord have an intimate relationship

                • Abraham is the friend of God

                • The prophet Jeremiah understood this intimate friendship with the Lord, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:5)

                • The Israelites experienced this intimate relationship with the Lord, “You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins.” (Amos 3:2)

                • Jesus’ disciples also experienced a close personal relationship with the Lord, I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. ​​ Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you (John 15:15)

                • The Lord knew the kind of man that Abraham was, which is why He chose him

                • He knew how Abraham would handle the information about His plans for Sodom – about meting out justice for the wicked

              • Direct

                • The Lord could trust Abraham to direct his children and household concerning justice

                  • The word direct means “to command, to charge”

                  • This is what Moses did when he was given the law, he commanded, he charged the Israelites to obey it

                • Home schooled

                  • “There is no record of a school in Israel before the late intertestamental period; families were the source of all education, including trades.” ​​ [Waltke, 269]

                  • Abraham was going to teach his children and those in his household the way of the Lord

                  • He was going to do this by modeling for them what is right and just

                  • These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. ​​ Impress them on your children. ​​ Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

                  • Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching ​​ (Proverbs 1:8)

                • PRINCIPLE #1 – Fathers are the spiritual leaders of their households.

                  • The covenant relationship that Abraham had with the Lord was a servant of Yahweh, which had certain responsibilities associated with it

                  • One was to instruct his children and household about how to follow the Lord and do what is right and just

                  • Fathers, we have the same responsibility as Abraham did

                  • As the spiritual leaders of our households, we are given the responsibility of instructing our children and household in the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just

                  • How are we doing with this responsibility, guys?

                  • Are we leading our families by praying together, reading God’s Word together, attending church together, serving together, modeling how to give?

                  • Can the Lord trust us with His plans, because He knows we will direct our families correctly?

                  • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Lead my children and household in the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just.

                • Because the Lord could trust and count on Abraham to direct his family well, we see that the Lord would fulfill His promise

              • Promised fulfilled

                • The Lord made Abraham into a great nation

                • The Lord made Abraham’s name great

                • The Lord has blessed all peoples through Abraham

            • As the friend of God, Abraham was given insider information

            • God’s righteousness and mercy are seen through Him including Abraham in His plans

          • God reveals His plans to His prophets

            • Abraham fits the description of a prophet, because the Lord will reveal His plan to him concerning Sodom

            • Amos 3:7, Surely, the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets

            • In the other Biblical instances when the Lord reveals His plan to the prophets, it was so they could warn the people

            • As we will see, the Lord reveals His plan about Sodom, so that Abraham can intercede for them – he will not be warning anyone about the destruction to come

          • So, the Lord has this internal conversation about whether or not to tell Abraham about His plans

          • What we see next is the Lord telling Abraham what He has heard about Sodom

        • External announcement

          • Outcry is so great

            • The first couple of things that comes to mind when we hear the words Sodom and Gomorrah are:

              • God destroyed them with fire from heaven

              • Homosexuality was rampant there

                • Chapter 19 focuses on this sin

                • But are people crying out to the Lord only about this sin?

                • As we will see in chapter 19, it is likely that any visitor to Sodom potentially had to ward off a crowd of men who wanted to sleep with them

                • So, perhaps the Lord is hearing the cries of those who have visited Sodom and have been violated

                • The word sodomy is the result of the practices done in this ancient city

            • The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is broader than just the sin of homosexuality

              • It certainly includes homosexuality, but there is more

              • We see it in Isaiah 1:10-31

                • They were murdering

                • They were not rebuking those who were oppressing others

                • They were not defending the cause of the fatherless

                • They were not pleading the case of the widow

              • Those who were oppressed, fatherless, and widows were crying out to the Lord about their treatment in Sodom – it was injustice that had reached the ears of the Lord, as well as, sexual immorality

              • The Lord is attentive to the cries of the widow, the orphan, and the oppressed/needy

                • Exodus 22:22-23, “Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. ​​ If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.”

                • Exodus 22:27, “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not be like a moneylender; charge him no interest. ​​ If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, return it to him by sunset, because his cloak is the only covering he has for his body. ​​ What else will he sleep in? ​​ When he cries out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.”

                • Job 34:28, They caused the cry of the poor to come before him, so that he heard the cry of the needy.

            • The Lord had heard how grievous their sin was

          • Sin is grievous

            • The Hebrew for grievous means, “to be great, vehement, plentiful, of enormity of wickedness.” ​​ [https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h3513/nasb95/wlc/0-1/]

            • It wasn’t just a small amount of sin, it was a huge amount of sin

            • As we will see in just a moment and in the coming weeks, it didn’t involve just a small number of the inhabitants of Sodom, but rather almost every person

            • Because God is righteous, He has to investigate the claims He has heard – He has to see it firsthand

          • Investigation needed

            • The Lord tells Abraham that the reason He is in the region is because He needs to see with His own eyes what He has heard concerning Sodom

            • Isn’t God omniscient (all knowing)?

              • Why would He need to come down and investigate?

              • Doesn’t He already know?

              • “God’s omniscience does not fall into jeopardy when he adopts the behavior of a righteous human judge who does not act until the evidence supports his judgement.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 165]

              • The Lord did the same thing with the tower of Babel – he came down to see (Genesis 11:5)

              • Only after He saw firsthand what they were doing did He confuse their language and cause them to scatter over all the earth

            • God is righteous in His judgment, He doesn’t jump to conclusions or do things capriciously

        • While God is righteous in His judgment, He is also merciful toward His creation

    • Individual Intercession (vv. 22-33)

        • The two angels begin their descent to Sodom

        • The Lord remains standing before Abraham

          • The Lord doesn’t leave immediately with the other two men, because He knows Abraham’s heart

          • He knows that Abraham has taken the promised, “blessing to the nations,” seriously

          • He knows that Abraham is going to intercede for the people in the valley of the Dead Sea

            • I’m using the terminology of the Dead Sea plains and the valley of the Dead Sea on purpose

            • We normally only refer to Sodom and Gomorrah, but as chapter 19 will show us, it was the entire Dead Sea plain that was being consumed

            • “There are five sites of Early Bronze cities on the southeast plain of the Dead Sea, demonstrating that fairly large populations once existed here (occupied from 3300-2100 B.C.) ​​ From north to south they are Bab edh-Dhra’ (Sodom?), Numeira (Gomorrah?), Safi (Zoar), Feifa, and Khanazir, with the last being about twenty miles from the first.” ​​ [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 476]

            • The significance of there being five cities involved will be highlighted in just a moment

          • “His dialogue with Abraham exhibits the exceptional condescension of God who appears as a man, hears out a man (Abraham), and then ultimately saves a man (Lot).” ​​ [Mathews, 226]

        • Learning about justice and God’s character (vv. 23-25)

          • Through the various questions that Abraham is posing, it seems as though He is simply trying to verify God’s character

            • God is both righteous and merciful.

            • So, Abraham is trying to understand that balance

            • Surely God would not kill the righteous with the wicked

            • God wouldn’t treat the righteous and the wicked the same – that’s just not in His character to do that

          • God’s mercy revealed

            • Abraham intercedes for the people of the plains

              • It was more than Abraham pleading for the life of Lot and his family

              • Abraham is interceding for all of the people in the southeast region of the Dead Sea valley

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – The Lord is pleased when we intercede for others.

                • Is there a group that you know are choosing the things of this world instead of the things of God

                • Have you been praying for them, interceding for them before the Lord?

                • Or, are you content to let them be destroyed and wiped out?

                • Perhaps we need to have the Lord change our hearts and attitudes, so we will intercede for others

                  • The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. ​​ He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:8)

                  • This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4)

                  • Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. ​​ Turn! ​​ Turn from your evil ways! ​​ Why will you die, O house of Isreael?’ (Ezekiel 33:11)

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Intercede for those who are pursuing wickedness instead of righteousness.

                  • If you are taking this step today, I want to encourage you to be specific

                  • Don’t just pray in general terms for groups of people

                  • Choose one or two groups and pray, specifically, by name, for those who are a part of that group

                  • Pray that God would bring salvation to those in that group

              • Abraham was interceding for the entire group of people in the plain

            • Abraham whittles down the number of righteous from 50 to 10

              • The number ten could represent one family or as Goldingay mentions, “. . . ten is also the minimum number for a Jewish prayer meeting (cf. b. Meg. 23b, which could usefully have claimed this passage among its prooftexts), and Tg. Ps.-J. takes that fact as the clue to Abraham’s numbers. ​​ They had started from fifty, as indicating a minyan in each of the five towns, with the eventual implication that even a prayer meeting in one town could have forestalled the calamity.” ​​ [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, 302]

                • If there were one family or a prayer meeting group in each town, then would the Lord spare the whole plain?

                • The number fifty also constituted half of a small city [Waltke, 270]

              • Why did Abraham stop at ten?

                • “Phillips suggests that Abraham had multiplied the five cities of the plain by the number of necessary witnesses in each and concluded that ten was the bottom line. ​​ He says, ‘There are five cities in the plain. ​​ In Scripture two is the number of adequate witness, so it required ten righteous people to be in the valley, else there would not be even the minimum witness for God’ (Phillips, 157).” ​​ [Phillips cited by Gangel & Bramer, 165]

                • The numbers are fascinating

                • There were two angels who were heading down to Sodom to see if what the Lord had heard was true – they were necessary witnesses together with the Lord

              • God’s mercy is on display

            • Through this we see that God is merciful

              • “Yahweh can be merciful because he is righteous and just.” ​​ [Hamilton, 25]

              • PRINCIPLE #3 – The Lord is merciful!

                • The Lord was willing to spare the entire Dead Sea plain if only ten righteous people were found there

                • The Lord would not give the Sodomites what they deserved on account of ten righteous people

                • That is incredible!

                • How have you experienced the mercy of God in your own life or because of a righteous person in your life?

                • Can you point to a specific time or situation where you did not get what you deserved?

                • Did you recognize that this came from the Lord?

                • Did you thank the Lord for showing His mercy to you?

                • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Thank the Lord for showing me mercy when I did not deserve it.

          • The time of intercession is complete

          • The saddest part about Abraham’s intercession is that we will see that not even ten righteous people are found in Dead Sea plains

        • The Lord leaves for Sodom and Abraham returns home

 

  • YOU

    • Fathers, are you ready to lead your children and household in the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just?

    • People of God, are you ready to intercede for others?

    • If you have received mercy, have you thanked the Lord?

  • WE

    • As a body of believers, we should be corporately interceding for those who are pursuing wickedness.

    • Corporately, we should be thanking the Lord for His mercy.

 

CONCLUSION

“As many in Britain have reflected on the life and leadership of Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1997–2007), stories have emerged concerning his faith. A 2008 issue of Time magazine featured one particularly moving story from Blair's past:

 

Blair is deeply religious—the most openly devout political leader of Britain since William Ewart Gladstone more than 100 years ago. He handles questions about religion deftly. He doesn't back down. His longtime press secretary and consigliere, Alastair Campbell, remembers Blair in 1996 at a school in Scotland where a gunman had killed 16 children and a teacher. In a bloodstained classroom, Campbell asked Blair, ‘What does your God make of this?’ Blair, says Campbell, stopped and replied, ‘Just because man is bad, it does not mean that God is not good.’”

 

Source: Michael Elliott, "Tony Blair's Leap of Faith," Time magazine (6-9-08), p. 34.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2008/october/1101308.html]

11

 

Origins

Entertaining Angels

(Genesis 18:1-15)

 

INTRODUCTION

“In Outlive Your Life, Max Lucado writes:

 

Long before the church had pulpits and baptisteries, she had kitchens and dinner tables. Even a casual reading of the New Testament unveils the house as the primary tool of the church. The primary gathering place of the church was the home. Consider the genius of God's plan. The first generation of Christians was a tinderbox of contrasting cultures and backgrounds. At least fifteen different nationalities heard Peter's sermon on the Day of Pentecost. Jews stood next to Gentiles. Men worshiped with women. Slaves and masters alike sought after Christ. Can people of such varied backgrounds and cultures get along with each other?

 

We wonder the same thing today. Can Hispanics live in peace with Anglos? Can Democrats find common ground with Republicans? Can a Christian family carry on a civil friendship with the Muslim couple down the street? Can divergent people get along?

 

The early church did—without the aid of sanctuaries, church buildings, clergy, or seminaries. They did so through the clearest of messages (the Cross) and the simplest of tools (the home).

 

Not everyone can serve in a foreign land, lead a relief effort, or volunteer at the downtown soup kitchen. But who can't be hospitable? Do you have a front door? A table? Chairs? Bread and meat for sandwiches? Congratulations! You just qualified to serve in the most ancient of ministries: hospitality.

 

Something holy happens around a dinner table that will never happen in a sanctuary. In a church auditorium you see the backs of heads. Around the table you see the expressions on faces. In the auditorium one person speaks; around the table everyone has a voice. Church services are on the clock. Around the table there is time to talk.

 

Hospitality opens the door to uncommon community. It's no accident that hospitality and hospital come from the same Latin word, for they both lead to the same result: healing. When you open your door to someone, you are sending this message: ‘You matter to me and to God.’ You may think you are saying, ‘Come over for a visit.’ But what your guest hears is, ‘I'm worth the effort.’”

 

Source: Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life (Nelson, 2010), p. 55.

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2011/february/3022111.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Hospitality

        • Judy and I love to have people over for a meal

        • It’s such a great time to connect and enjoy each other’s company

        • We’re able to talk about a lot of subjects that we wouldn’t normally have time to talk about on a Sunday morning

        • Many times, we’ve found that we have common interests and likes

    • Our parents

        • Judy and I learned the importance of hospitality from our parents

        • Both sets of our parents were great at inviting others over to their homes or out to a restaurant for a meal

        • Hospitality was modeled for us

        • I’ve been introduced to a large number of ethnicities because of my parent’s hospitality

 

  • WE

    • From Max Lucado’s qualifications for hospitality, we all have everything we need in order to serve in this way.

    • Take a moment to think about the last time you invited a person or family into your home for a meal.

 

Three men visit Abraham and he jumps into action to provide incredible hospitality for them. ​​ He includes his wife, Sarah, and at least one other servant. ​​ While hospitality covers the first eight verses, what encompasses all fifteen verses is how Abraham and Sarah reacted to the presence of the Lord in their midst. ​​ So, the author of Genesis wants us to wrestle with the question . . .

BIG QUESTION – How do we react to the Lord’s presence in our lives?

 

We are going to see two reactions today, worshiping and wavering.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 18:1-15)

    • Worship (vv. 1-8)

        • Setting the stage (narrator)

          • The narrator gives us some information upfront that Abraham did not have at first

            • It is later revealed to Abraham that one of the three men is the Lord – scholars call this a Christophany (the appearance of Jesus, prior to His birth) or Theophany (appearance of deity on earth)

            • We are given insider information before the narrative unfolds

            • The Lord (Heb. Jehovah) appeared to Abraham

          • Descriptive information

            • Geography – near the great trees of Mamre (outside of Hebron)

            • Abraham’s location – entrance to his tent

            • Time of day – in the heat of the day (midday)

          • Abraham’s actions

            • He looked up

              • Perhaps Abraham was taking a little nap

              • During the hottest part of the day, most people would stop working, stop traveling, and rest

              • So, when Abraham looked up and saw these three men standing nearby, he knew that something was up – why are these three men traveling right now?

            • He got up

              • Wiersbe says that Abrahams was “both curious and courteous.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Genesis-Deuteronomy, 91]

              • His curiosity motivated him to run from his tent to meet these men

              • He obviously realized that these men were not just ordinary men, especially one of them, as we will see in just a moment

            • He bowed down

              • He showed incredible respect and reverence for them, even though he did not know them

              • He bowed low to the ground

              • We’re not certain if Abraham recognized the Lord at this point

              • Assuming that he didn’t recognize the Lord, we see modeled in the Old Testament, what the New Testament writer of Hebrews encourages us to do

              • Hebrews 13:2, Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

              • We've all been asked the question: ‘If you had the chance to talk to your hero, who would it be and what would you say?’ Washington, D.C. cab driver Sam Snow didn't have much of a chance to prepare for a conversation with his hero, though, because it took him by surprise. While driving his taxi recently, Snow mentioned to his passengers that even though he was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, his all-time favorite player was Broncos legend John Elway. The passengers then asked him if he thought he could recognize Elway if he ever met him. Snow then turned around to realize that the famous former quarterback, who was in Washington, D.C. for the presidential inauguration, was in fact riding in his own backseat. The two snapped a quick picture, but only after Snow chastised Elway for beating his Steelers so many times in the playoffs.”

                Source: "Cab Driver Praises John Elway, Then Learns He's Driving Him," Yahoo! News (1-24-17).

                [https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2017/february/2020617.html]

            • Application

              • Whether or not Abraham knew he was bowing down before the Lord, we see him modeling worship of the Lord

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when His people eagerly worship Him.

                • “Here’s a ninety-nine-year-old man who runs to meet the Lord. ​​ How do you and I greet the Lord when the alarm clock goes off for devotions and prayer, for meditation and worship?” ​​ [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament, Volume 1: Genesis-Job, 77-78]

                • What is our attitude and posture when we meet with the Lord?

                • Are we excited to see the Lord, to be with the Lord?

                • Do we give Him the proper reverence He is do?

                • I have to admit that I do not always run to the Lord in excitement and anticipation and I do not always bow low to the ground in worship of Him

                • But this is certainly how we should approach Him – with eagerness and humility

                • Francis Chan challenged me recently, through a video that is part of a book we are reading together as a board, to beg God for humility

                • That has been one of my prayers recently – begging the Lord for humility

                • I want to come before the Lord in total submission and humility, so He can use me for His glory

                • Perhaps you are recognizing that you do not come to the Lord with excitement, anticipation, and humility

                • If that is something you desire to do, then this next step is for you

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Eagerly approach the Lord each day with excitement, enthusiasm, and humility.

          • Abraham looked up, got up, and bowed down, but then he provided incredible hospitality

        • Hospitality

          • My Lord (v. 3)

            • It seems probable that as Abraham approaches the three men, that he recognizes One of them as being God

              • God had just appeared to him fairly recently (perhaps within 3 month) to establish the covenant of circumcision and promise he and Sarah a baby boy

              • This visit happened when Abraham was 99 years old

              • This next visit can’t be too distant from the previous one, because Isaac is born when Abraham is 100 years old (within the year)

              • So, perhaps Abraham recognized God, which prompts his worship of the Lord by bowing low to the ground, instead of just bowing his head in respect of a superior

            • Original Hebrew

              • “This is better translated ‘my Lord.’ ​​ The translation ‘my lord’ is misleading, since the Hebrew text refers to a title for God. ​​ NIV translates the same Hebrew in 18:27 as ‘the Lord’ (see 18:1, 13, 17), although it should be written in upper case.” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis A Commentary, 267]

              • “Perceiving at once that one of them was the Lord (אֲדֹנָי , i.e., God), he prostrated himself reverentially before them, and entreated them not to pass him by, but to suffer him to entertain them as his guests . . .” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 146]

            • Abraham wants to continue his close relationship with the Lord (he was the friend of God), so he offers an opportunity for fellowship

          • Normal hospitality (vv. 4-5)

            • What Abraham offers the three travelers is standard hospitality for the ancient Near East (foot-washing, food, and rest)

            • They all agree to not pass by, but to allow Abraham the opportunity to meet their needs

          • Extravagant hospitality (vv. 6-8)

            • Abraham offered them a meal, but what he provided for them was a feast

            • “Protocol required that the meal served to the guest exceed what was first offered.” ​​ [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 452]

            • Abraham does just that

              • He asks Sarah to make bread with 3 seahs of fine flour

                • Three seahs would make more bread than the three men, Abraham, and Sarah could eat on their own

                • “1 Sam. 25:18 tells us Abigail made sufficient provisions for David and his band of outlaws with five seahs of parched grain. ​​ The trench that Elijah dug around the base of the altar at Mt. Carmel, which was then filled with twelve jars of water, was large enough to hold two seahs of seed (1 K. 18:32).” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 11]

              • He selected a choice, tender calf and had a servant prepare it

                • While the offering of bread was very generous, the offering of meat was extravagant

                • Meat was not a normal part of their diet

                • It was reserved for special occasions (the Prodigal Son narrative)

                • Abraham was pulling out all the stops

              • He brought curds and milk

                • This was also pretty special for the guests

                • “In the ancient Near East, goat’s milk was especially prized because of its energy and easy digestibility.” ​​ [Waltke, 267]

            • Abraham goes all out for the Lord and His two angels

          • Application

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – The Lord is honored when we offer hospitality to others.

              • I was sharing this past week, with a group, that one of the best ways to connect new people to the church is through inviting them out for a meal or having them over for a meal

              • As Max Lucado already said, every one of us has all we need in order to qualify for the ministry of hospitality

              • I want to encourage everyone to consider who they can invite over for a meal this week

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Invite someone from the church to have a meal with me/us (either in my home or at a restaurant).

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is glorified when we give our best to Him.

              • Abraham did not spare any expense when it came to providing for the needs of the Lord and His two angels

              • He was willing to offer His best to the Lord

              • Are you offering your best to the Lord? (time, talents, or resources)

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Offer the best of my time, talents, and resources to the Lord.

                • Resources – Tithing, In-Gathering, Shoeboxes

                • Time – Volunteering Sunday morning or Wednesday evening (you can sign up today at the Welcome Center)

                • Talents – Serving with one of our commissions, special music, worship team, etc.

            • Abraham’s ministry to the Lord was exceptional and we see several characteristics that we should follow [Wiersbe, 91]

              • He served personally

              • He ministered immediately

              • He served generously

              • He served humbly

              • He served cooperatively

              • We should serve the Lord in the same way

        • Abraham reacted to the Lord’s presence with worship and service, but how did Sarah react?

    • Waver (vv. 9-15)

        • Crib (cultural reference)

          • The three men Abraham where his wife, Sarah, is?

          • It’s fascinating that they know her name, especially since we are not told in the passage that Abraham introduces them to her

          • Her certainly could have introduced her when she brought the bread out for the meal

          • It seems as though they are asking where she is, because they have not seen her yet

          • Abraham tells them that she is in the tent

        • Covenant

          • In the original Hebrew, it simply says, “And he said.”

            • The NIV has added “the Lord,” because that is who is speaking to Abraham in verse 13

            • “He” in verse 10 is obviously speaking about the Lord

          • The Lord is now restating the covenant He had shared with Abraham, so that Sarah can hear it

          • The Lord is also giving a specific time frame for the first time

            • Abraham will not have to wonder when this promised son will arrive

            • Within the year Sarah will become pregnant and give birth to a son

          • Obviously, the three men wanted to know where Sarah was, so that she would not miss the covenant announcement

          • We are told that she was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind the three men

        • Confused

          • The narrator again gives us information to help us understand Sarah’s reaction to the covenant announcement and the confrontation that will take place momentarily

            • Abraham and Sarah were old

            • Sarah had reached menopause and was no longer having a monthly cycle – her body was not producing eggs that could be fertilized

            • “Her body is procreatively dead.” ​​ [Waltke, 268]

            • Romans 4:19, Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.

          • Sarah’s reaction

            • She laughed and had doubts

            • It’s important to note that she laughed to herself (not out loud) and thought in her mind that she was worn out and her master was old (she didn’t say those words out loud)

            • Worn out

              • Sarah is aware that she has reached menopause

              • Even though she has never had any children of her know, she knows what it meant for other women in her household who have reached menopause

              • They are no longer able to conceive and bare children

              • From a human perspective, Sarah laughs and questions the validity of the Lord’s announcement, because she knows herself and her body

              • Sarah’s reaction to the presence of God in her life was doubt

              • What she was forgetting was the ultimate power of the Lord to do the impossible

            • Pleasure

              • The Hebrew word for pleasure is ʿeḏen (eh’den)

              • The same Hebrew word is used for the Garden of Eden

              • This Hebrew word can also refer to sexual intimacy

              • It’s fascinating to think that Sarah would consider having a baby or being intimate with Abraham, again, as like returning to the Garden of Eden

          • Sarah’s laughter and thoughts are not lost on the Lord

        • Confrontation

          • The Lord confronts Abraham about Sarah’s private laughter and thoughts

          • The Lord then asks if anything is too hard for Him

            • This is really a rhetorical question

            • PRINCIPLE #4 – God is omnipotent (all-powerful)!

              • There is nothing beyond God’s power to accomplish

              • He can as easily bring Sarah’s womb back to life, as He created man from the dust of the earth or woman from the rib of man

              • He can take the ashes of a cremated body and reinstitute it, when Jesus Christ returns in the clouds

              • He can remove the cancer cells from any human being, with just a thought or the touch of His hand

              • He can restore sight, hearing, and speech to those who are born that way

              • He can bring back to life those who are dead

              • He can save any sinner

              • “‘Is anything too hard for the Lord?’ ​​ Is there any sin for which the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cannot atone? ​​ Moses was a murderer but he was saved. ​​ David was an adulterer and a murderer, and he was saved. ​​ Peter denied Christ. ​​ Paul killed Stephen. ​​ These and countless other sinners have been saved by the merits of Jesus Christ alone. ​​ Their salvation was not too hard for God. ​​ Why should yours be impossible? ​​ God says to you, ‘Come now, let us reason together . . . though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; ;though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool’ (Isa. 1:18).” ​​ [Boice cited by Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 154]

              • The Lord does this for His glory!

              • As followers of Jesus Christ, this is a truth and attribute of God that we must embrace and believe with all of our being

              • Too often we doubt that God is truly all-powerful

              • We may pray for healing, but doubt that it will really happen

              • We may pray for salvation of family member or friend, but doubt they will turn to Jesus

              • Those are not a prayers of faith, trusting in an all-powerful God

              • God is willing and able to do the miraculous, the supernatural

              • He is all-powerful!

          • Confirmation of the covenant

            • The Lord states His covenant announcement a second time, so that Sarah can hear it again

            • He will return in a year and Sarah will have a son

            • “. . . Sarah’s unbelief does not abort, or sidetrack, or slow down the promise of God. ​​ She will still conceive, whether she thinks she can or cannot.” ​​ [Hamilton, 14]

          • We see another reaction of Sarah to the Lord’s presence

        • Calumny (lie)

          • Sarah was afraid, so she lied

            • Her second reaction to the presence of the Lord in her life was fear, which caused her to lie

            • Fear can drive us to do things we normally wouldn’t do otherwise

            • “Fear moves people to do things that are irrational and uncharacteristic of them. ​​ Adam hid because he was afraid of God. ​​ Abraham deceived because he was afraid of what the Egyptians might do to him. ​​ Now Sarah is afraid because she has challenged the authenticity of a divine promise and because she has irked the divine visitor. ​​ Thus she lies: ​​ I did not laugh. ​​ A second sin is committed (lying) in an attempt to cover up a first sin (unbelief).” ​​ [Hamilton, 14]

          • Why did the Lord confront Sarah about her laugher, but not Abraham about his laughter?

            • Both Abraham and Sarah laughed about the same covenantal announcement

            • Here is the difference

              • Abraham’s laughter was based on joyful, astonished faith

              • Sarah’s laughter was marked by doubt and unbelief

          • No condemnation

            • The Lord confirms that Sarah did actually laugh

            • “The Lord doesn’t condemn Sarah for laughing; but simply reminds her that He knows exactly what’s going on in her heart and what she’s doing behind closed tent flaps.” ​​ [Courson, 78]

        • Omniscient

          • There is one final principle that is evident throughout verses 9-15

          • PRINCIPLE #5 – God is omniscient (all knowing)!

            • The Lord knew Sarah’s name (v. 9)

            • The Lord knew the future concerning Sarah having a son (v. 10)

            • The Lord knew what Sarah did in the privacy of her tent (v. 13)

            • The Lord knew that Sarah had laughed to herself (v. 15)