Looking for a place to call home
Looking for a place to call home
Chicago Church of Christ – Metro Ministry Center
June 29th 2008
It is great to finally be here!!!
These past four months have stretched our faith, brought us to our knees and now have brought us with you.
Just as the Israelites did with Moses, there were times when we questioned God wondering if it really was His will for us to come to Chicago. During these past few months we were refined, molded and forced to rely on God in our desert… The disappearance of Steven’s Birth Certificate, the lawyer losing my passport, we blew the head gasket on our car, TWICE…
We are convinced that all that has happened has happened so that we can see God’s glory in the promised land of the METRO!
We appreciate so much Randy and Patsy Harris who were our cloud of smoke and fire that kept us focused on the path… Now I look younger for the whole ordeal, but Randy was only 40 when I saw him in December.
Today we’re going to talk about morning and the impact that it can have on our lives. In my 17 years as a Christian I have lived in 27 houses in 6 cities and in 4 countries.
When we move it really involves so much more than finding the house. What’s really important is finding the neighborhood (really the neighbors), they’re the ones that make or break the move.
That reminds me of the story of a young couple that bought a house at the end of the street. At the other end of the street there was a cranky but devout old lady. The neighbors decided to have a cook-out to welcome the young couple to the block. Just as they were starting up the grill they realized that no one had bothered to invite their cranky neighbor, wanting to right the wrong doing the neighbors sent one of the small children to ask her to come along. When the young messenger invited her to the cook-out she frankly replied, “Thank you, but it’s too late… I’ve already prayed for rain.”
Today we’re going to talk about two men and how their decisions of where to live affected their spirituality and their future.
13:1 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. 2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.
3 From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier 4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the LORD.
5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram's herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.
8 So Abram said to Lot, "Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let's part company. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right; if you go to the right, I'll go to the left."
10 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.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD.
Here we find Abram and Lot living together in Canaan when their herdsmen begin to argue. At this point both men, richly blessed, decide to separate.
Ø Lot decided to live near Sodom and Gomorrah, drawn by the apparent abundance.
Ø Abram chose to move to the mountainous region of Hebron drawn to God.
I. Riding the fence
2 Peter 2:7-8
7 ....he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men 8(for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)
This is one of those scriptures that you kind of have to chew on…
Ø Lot was righteous, but by no means was he a “Saint”.
o He didn’t agree with what was going on in Sodom, but he didn’t radically separate himself either.
o Lot’s weak character didn’t allow him to enjoy his relationship with God nor his relationship with Sodom.
o Today so many people live that way – their conscience won’t allow them to do “BAD THINGS”, but they can tolerate a lot of border-line situations in their life… (They live like Lot… TORMENTED.)
o It is frustrating when you don’t decide…. (Jesus said it best, Get hot or Get cold, but don’t ride the fence!)
II. The danger of living in the world
It’s possible that Lot was influenced by his wife and daughters who apart from being weak were also worldly (“Bad company corrupts good character” – 1 Cor 15:33)
12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom.
It’s interesting to note that Lot and his family actually moved toward Sodom little by little.
Ø That’s the way it happen… little by little we allow sin to creep into our lives,
Ø Most people don’t wake up and say, “I’m going to destroy my life and family today…” It’s the accumulation of little things that add up and eventually lead us off of God’s path.
Ø For example: a year or so ago I traveled home to Orlando to work out some paperwork. It was only my 3rd trip home after 14 years on the mission field. I decided to meet up with a friend and headed out the door… one wrong turn than another and soon I was good and lost and not in a great part of town. I was convinced that each turn I made was going to right my situation, but it only served to worsen it.
Ø We often think that we know what we’re doing… that leads to pride… which then leads to a lack of openness… which in turn leads us to getting lost.
Ø We’ve got to get past the desire to look like we’re in control, humble out and get some spiritual guidance.
v Lot felt beckoned to the hustle and bustle of the city.
v Abram was drawn to the voice of the creator.
v What calls your attention today?
III. Warning signs along the road
8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim 9 against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar — four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills. 11 The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. 12 They also carried off Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.
13 One who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshcol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.
Ø If we allow our lives to wander from God we can expect disaster.
Ø Lot was a rich man; he was an important figure in the city… He had everything he could possibly want… (He was living the American dream).
Ø God warned Lot by way of war that he needed to change… He needed to get out of Sodom, but he didn’t listen.
Ø In verse 16 we see that Abram saved Lot, but instead of moving to the mountain he marked it up as a close call and marched right back to Sodom.
Ø Do we do that? Do we ignore God’s warning just to keep living the way we always have?
Ø Are you listening to God’s warning signs in your life?
Ø Many times we’re just like Lot… we pray in anguish, but once the pressure is off we go right back to Sodom.
v The problem was that Lot didn’t change his spiritual condition and the next time God spoke to him HE LOST EVERYTHING!!! (The house, the flocks, his future sons in law, his wife and God’s blessing.
v Gen 19:12-29
12 The two men said to Lot, "Do you have anyone else here — sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it."
14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, "Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!" But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.
15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished."
16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, "Flee for your lives! Don't look back, and don't stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!"
18 But Lot said to them, "No, my lords, please! 19 Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can't flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I'll die. 20 Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it — it is very small, isn't it? Then my life will be spared."
21 He said to him, "Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it." (That is why the town was called Zoar.)
23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah — from the LORD out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities — and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the LORD. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.
29 So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.
v When the disaster was eminent, Lot went out and tried to save his sons in law (v.14).
§ They thought he was joking.
§ So many people don’t take sin and its effects seriously… We see how the World is falling apart, but somehow we believe that there is still time.
v Lot’s wife had made it! She was safe… (v.16) BUT she looked back in v.26.
o Why did she look back?
§ Did she felt like she was leaving behind something that was important to her?
o Why do we look back?
o Why do we forget so easily all the hurt that comes with sin and long to return to it?
v Lot made it, but his lack of spirituality gravely marked his family.
o V. 16 Shows him hesitating
o Vs. 17-20 show him negotiating with God’s mandate.
v THE TRUTH IS THAT LOT NEVER DEALT WITH HIS SINFUL NATURE…
o He flirted with danger… His sons in law laughed at it.
o He hesitated… His wife stopped and looked back.
o He doubted God’s providence… His daughters doubted to the point of committing incest with their father.
v How different the story could have been if Lot would have decided to move back to the mountains with his uncle.
v We need to be radical about sin… We need to get as far from it as we can. That what Jesus says in Mt 5.29-30. (Be careful of those Pet Sins… dropping the eye near by).
v Our lives are like grocery carts with a bad wheel… they require constant effort to keep them straight.
IV. The blessings of a home built with God
14 The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, "Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you."
18 So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the LORD.
Although Sodom looked like the better choice at the time, Abram chose the mountain, and God promised him the nation (We need to look towards what will be the better decision – LATER).
Ø In the war he asked for nothing and received the blessing.
Ø God was his prize and his protector all his life and into eternity.
23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
Ø Abraham believed God, Heeded His word and was considered his friend.
Ø Lot was the guy who got his britches burnt as he made it out of Hell as they were closing the door.
o Everyone else was lost due to their disbelief and sin.
THERE ARE TWO PATHS, One that will lead you to God’s mountain, the other to Satan’s den.
Which one will you chose today?
We’d like to invite you to study the Bible and get to know the God of Abram, the God of promises, the God of the mountain…
Let’s get off the fence, out of the world… on the right track and into the WORD, to build a home in the stars.