14 18-24 Choose Whom You Will Serve
liberty bible church 6/10/07 P.M.
By Tom Zobrist
“choose whom you will serve”
Illus. of “Wealthy Eccentric” A wealthy eccentric died and left a million dollars to his nephew, John. When the will was read at the lawyer’s office, the lawyer said to John, “According to your uncle’s instructions, payment of your inheritance will depend on choices that you must make.” The lawyer held his two fists out in front of him and asked, “Do you choose what is in my right hand or in my left hand?” John decided to take what was in the attorney’s right hand. The lawyer opened his left hand to reveal a gold coin and a silver coin. “Had you chosen this hand,” he said, “you would have received a substantial share in a gold mine or a silver mine in Chile.” Then he opened his right hand to reveal a nut and a coffee bean. “These represent a million dollars’ worth of nuts or coffee from Brazil,” said the attorney. “Which do you choose?” John decided on the nuts. A week went by before John arrived in Brazil to take charge of his holdings. In the interim, fire destroyed a huge warehouse where the nuts that John had inherited were stored and coffee prices doubled. Since John hadn’t gotten around to insuring his holdings, he soon was bankrupt. He barely had enough for his airfare home to New York or Los Angeles, where he could stay with a friend. He chose Los Angeles. Just before he took off, the New York plane came out on the runway—it was a brand-new super jet. For the connecting flight to Los Angeles, the plane was a 1928 Ford trimotor with a sway back that took half a day to get off the ground. It was filled with crying children and tethered goats. Over the Andes one engine fell off. Our man crawled up to the cockpit and said, “Let me out if you want to save your lives. Give me a parachute.” The pilot agreed but said, “On this airline, anybody who bails out must wear two chutes.” John jumped from the plane and as he fell he tried to make up his mind which rip cord to pull. Finally he chose the one on the left. It was rusty, and the wire pulled loose. He pulled the other handle. The chute opened, but its shroud lines snapped. In desperation the poor fellow cried out, “St. Francis save me!” Suddenly a great hand reached down from Heaven, seized the poor man’s wrist and let him dangle in midair. Then a gentle voice asked, “St. Francis Xavier or St. Francis of Assisi?” Bits & Pieces, May 25, 1995, pp. 6-8
I realize that this is a dumb story, but it illustrates that our lives are full of a myriad of choices and we ourselves bear the consequences of each of those choices. For the younger in the group, most have had parents that have made critical decisions for them. As you grow older, you will begin to make choices on your own. You will choose your friends, a career, perhaps a college. As you continue to mature you will choose where to work, where to live, who to marry, and which church to attend. These are just a sampling of critical choices that we all make at one time or another and which we choose will affect us and our families greatly. As you face these decisions, it’s possible that you could begin to feel a bit overwhelmed. I want to possibly help by simplifying things for you if I might.
OPEN to passage.
Prop. In this passage, we see Abram make a critical choice that would have far reaching affects for himself and millions of descendents.
Open in PRAYER.
PREVIEW the passage. Abram has just come off a great victory for his family and five cities from the southern plain. Four kings had come from the northeast to deal with an uprising against their authority. They conquered these five cities and several others on their way there and took much plunder and many captives. Among the captives was Lot, the nephew of Abram, from whom he had separated previously because of the magnitude of their flocks and herds and people. So, it is Abram to the rescue. Cf. 14:13-16 As he returns, he is met by the king of Sodom, who previously had fled. Needless to say, he is very grateful. But, that’s not all who came to meet Abram. And with this attention, Abram has a decision to make. To whom would he credit for this great victory. Was it by human power of the power of God. That is where we find the greatest choice in life. Whom will we serve? If we answer this question properly, we will be able to make all the right choices in life. In any decision, you can choose God’s Way or My Way. (Your Own Way.) If we are serving God, we will choose God’s way. Abram had that choice here. Let’s look at…
i. God’s Way vs. 18-20
Illus. of “Pastoral Call” A minister received a call from a church that offered him a salary four times what he was then receiving. Being a devout man, he spent much time in prayer trying to discern what God wanted him to do. One day a friend met the minister’s young son on the street. “Do you know what your dad is going to do?” he asked. “Well,” replied the youngster, “Dad’s praying, but Mom’s packing!” Is this how God leads?
a. In God’s Way, God provides Guidance
V 18a 1. A second king meets Abram on his return from battle. This king is much different than the wicked king from Sodom. This is Melchizedek, king of Salem. This was Jerusalem. It is referred to as just Salem in Psalm 76:2. Melchizedek means “righteous ruler.”
V 18b 2. It says here he was “the priest of God Most High.” Many believe that Melchizedek was a theophany or a preincarnate Christ. (Jesus appearing in human form before he was born in human form.) More than likely, this refers to a righteous ruler that was a leader in following the same God that called Abram to this region. He was not involved in the idol worship of the Canaanites.
a. David later prophesies that his descendant would be a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Cf. Ps. 110:4 David saw beyond the Levitical priesthood that was temporary.
b. Melchizedek is also referred to in Hebrews. He was a type of Christ. Jesus’ priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood. Melchizedek has no recorded family genealogy and so his priesthood is seen as superior to the Levitical priesthood, since Abram paid tithes to him and Levi descended from Abram.
3. Evidently, the king of Sodom recognized him as a superior since he gives preference to him in allowing him to address Abram first.
V 19 4. Abram recognizes Melchizedek’s spiritual superiority as well, since he accepts a blessing from him here. In his blessing, Melchizedek recognizes Abram as a servant of the one True God, possessor of heaven and earth. This set God apart from the many false deities in the region.
V 20a 5. He credits God for the source of this victory for Abram. God had directed Abram and now confirms that in the testimony of this priest and righteous king. This must have been a real blessing for Abram to realize that he was not alone in his service to God. There was another that recognized this. He was a high priest, someone that Abram could draw strength and guidance from. Illus. of believers are never alone in the world. God gives us His Word, church leaders, and other believers to help us find God’s Way. In God’s way, God provides guidance.
b. God’s way requires our sacrifice
V 20b 1. This reveals Abram’s humility. After this great victory, it would have been easy for him to be proud. But, he recognizes God’s work and God’s workman. He gave him a tenth of all that he owned.
2. Unlike most rogue warriors of the day, Abram was not in this to be rich, he was in it to do righteousness. He was seeking to be obedient to God and God blessed him for that. He then willingly offered a sacrifice for God’s blessings. Melchizedek received that offering on behalf of God.
3. It was important that Abram keep all this in proper perspective, for temptation to do it “his own way” would quickly come.
Trans. For now Abram made the right choice by choosing GOD’S WAY. It had provided him with guidance and he was willing to sacrifice to have that blessing. If you don’t choose God’s way, then the other option is…
ii. My Way vs. 21-24
Illus. of Frank Sinatra’s and Elvis' “My Way” (words & music by Jacques Revaux, Claude Francois, Paul Anka)
And now, the end is near;
And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I’ll say it clear,
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.
I’ve lived a life that’s full.
I’ve traveled each and ev’ry highway;
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.
Regrets, I’ve had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.
I planned each charted course;
Each careful step along the byway,
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.
Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all and I stood tall;
And did it my way.
I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried.
I’ve had my fill; my share of losing.
And now, as tears subside,
I find it all so amusing.
To think I did all that;
And may I say - not in a shy way,
No, oh no not me,
I did it my way.
For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels;
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows -
And did it my way!
These words sound a little like some of Solomon’s in Ecclesiastes. He did it his way, but Solomon regretted not doing it God’s way. What is my way and why is it not the way to choose?
a. My way is what I think I want
V 21 1. Abram is met by the king of Sodom, then by Melchizedek. He receives a blessing on behalf of God from Melchizedek, and then comes a proposal from the king of Sodom. The king of Sodom only wants the people back for, without them, he has no kingdom. But, he offers Abram all the spoils of the war. This would prove to be a test of Abram’s faith. What would he choose?
2. Many professing believers struggle with this dilemma. Jesus told us that this would be the case. Cf. Luke 8:14 One cannot bear fruit for God when pursuing the riches of this life. Are all riches sinful? They are if they are pursued at the expense of God’s Way. Not everyone is meant to have the riches of this life. Those that do may be in peril of this life being the only riches that they ever have. Cf. Luke 16:25 “But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.” This is because he rejected God’s message of salvation. He chose “My way” instead of “God’s way.”
b. my way must be rejected
V 22 1. Abram has sworn to God… He had made a 100% commitment to God. There was no turning back. No foot in the world and foot in heaven with Abram. He was demonstrating what true faith is. It looks beyond the pleasures of this life the bigger pleasures that God offers in eternity. He was not going to make a deal with an evil king that would perhaps make him feel subject to him.
V 23 2. Abram would take not one little thing. Not even a shoestring. He did not want to be accused of being allied with this people group. What amazes me, is that after all this, Lot still returns to Sodom.
V 24 3. He would only receive the supplies they had already eaten on the journey. In other words, he would not be reimbursed for those supplies. Also, for the three men that he dwelt with that accompanied him. Abram let his neighbors decide what they would take.
Abram made the right choice by choosing GOD’S WAY. It had provided him with guidance and he was willing to sacrifice to have that blessing. He rejected MY WAY. It contained temporary blessings that were far surpassed by God’s eternal promises. By faith, Abram clung to these promises that brought him thus far. So, what about us?
1. Choose Jesus. John 1:12 GOSPEL
2. Choose the Bible. It is a “lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Ps. 119:105
3. Choose Godly counsel. Prov. 1:5; 19:21
4. Don’t claim every right you have as an American. Cf. 1 Cor 6:7 God may want us to sacrifice to bless others.
Illus. of “Thought for the Day” last Thursday. I get this e-mailed to me each week day. It said, “Two philosophies: The world says, ‘Take care of number one.’ The Christian says, or ought to say, ‘Submit to God’s authority, be a servant, and occasionally expect to be misunderstood or walked on by someone.’ Satan took the first route, Jesus took the second.”
If you want to be successful, reject you way and choose God’s. This will benefit you wherever you go in this life and even more in the life to come.
liberty bible church 6/10/07 P.M.
By Tom Zobrist
“choose whom you will serve”
In any decision, you can choose ____________________ Way or ____________ Way.
i. Way vs. 18-20
a. In God’s Way, God provides ________________________________________
Cf. Psalm 76:2; 110:4
b. God’s way requires our ______________________________________
ii. Way vs. 21-24
a. My way is what…
Cf. Luke 8:14; 16:25
b. my way must be __________________________________
So, what about us?
Prov. 1:5, 19:21
1 Cor 6:7