The daring rescue of Lot

In Genesis 14:1-16 we read an account of Lot being taken captive and rescued by Abram.  Its only 16 verses, but in these verses is a lot of information and confusing names, I just want to take a few minutes and break it down a little bit.

Four rebellious kings went to war with Chedorlaomer king of Elam, the king they served for 12 years, in year 13 they rebelled.  The rebellious kings were:

  • Bera king of Sodom
  • Birsha king of Gomorrah
  • Shinab king of Admah
  • Shemeber king of Zeboiim
  • the king of Bela

The kings loyal to Chedorlaomer were:

  • Amraphel king of Shinar
  • Arioch king of Ellasar
  • Tidal king of Goiim

This group, 5 kings vs 4 , fought in the Valley of Siddim.  When we talk about kings fighting a war, remember that it wasn’t just 9 men going at in a royal rumble, but their armies battled each other.  Thousands of men were on that battle field. King Chedorlaomer and his combined armies won the battle and sent the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah running back through the Valley of Siddim.  King Chedorlaomer’s armies gave chase and took all of the Sodom and Gomorrah’s possessions and provisions along the way, including capturing a man named Lot and his family and possessions.

Abram heard about his nephew’s capture from an escapee.  Abram didn’t take the news lightly.  He led 318 of his family to Dan, where he divided his small force and attacked by night.  Abram and 318 men defeated 4 armies, not only did they win, but they chased them away!  With God’s help, Abram was able to rescue Lot, his family, and his possessions from a far superior foe.

God can see in the dark!

All throughout the Bible, people have tried to hide their sins from God.  From the very beginning of creation, Adam and Eve tried to hide that they had eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:8).  Then we see their son, Cain, killing his brother and sidestepping God’s questions (Genesis 4:9).  David, the man after God’s own heart, tried to cover his sin by having the husband of the woman he committed adultery with killed (2 Samuel 11:14-17)!  God saw through all of these people and their lies, and they all received different punishments. From hard work and painful childbirth, to wandering the earth, to the death of an innocent.

As if these weren’t bad enough, there are two dynamic duos in the Bible that lost their lives as a result of their attempted deceits.  First up, Nadab and Abihu.  They were sons of Aaron, the brother of Moses and High Priest.  They offered an offering of fire that God did not approve.  They were then stuck dead with fire for it (Leviticus 10:2).

Next up, Ananias and Sapphira.  They were members of the early Church.  They sold a field they owned and gave part of their profits to the Church.  This would have been a great thing, if only they hadn’t lied about it!  They told the apostles that they gave 100% of the profit to the Lord, but they held back a portion for themselves.  When questioned by Peter, Ananias was struck dead on the spot.  When Sapphira told the same lie, she too was struck dead (Acts 5:1-11).

This message isn’t very uplifting or comforting, but this message is very important: God can see in the dark!  Hiding our sins from the world, from our loved ones, from our brothers and sisters in Christ, from those who look up to us as an example does not work on God!  He knows what’s in our hearts (Psalm 44:20-21, Luke 16:15, Acts 15:8)!

While God does indeed see everything we do in the dark, John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Now that is comforting!

The F-Stop Blues

If you look closely at the lens of a Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera, you’ll see a ring near the base of lens that controls the F-Stop. The F-Stop represents the size of the aperture, or opening, in the lens.  The lower the number, the more light is allowed to enter the camera to create a bright and vivid image.  The higher the F-Stop, the slower the shutter needs to be to get enough light for a full exposure.  If the shutter is too slow the image will be blurry.

Our hearts can act like an F-Stop to God’s light.  If you open it wide, you will be bathed in God’s goodness and can absorb more love and knowledge and grow as a Christian.  But if you close your heart, you open yourself to blurry images of God, leaving yourself vulnerable to underexposure, leading to Satan’s darkness.

James 4:8 – “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”

1 John 1:5 – “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

Who is your target audience?

Most blogs, speeches, books, etc. are written for a target audience.  I write this blog with three audiences in mind:

1) People who are looking for something.  They may not know exactly what it is, but they are searching.  If something that I write will cause just one soul to ask a question that could lead them to God, then I will count this blog a resounding success!

2) People who are like minded as me.  Its always good to see that there is someone else out there who thinks the same way as you do, and another hope I have of this blog is to encourage other Christians who are also struggling through this world.

3) God.  This is who its all about.  God sees, hears, knows everything.  He should be our target audience, not just in our speech or worship, but in everything we do –Colossians 3:17.

Comedian Chris Rock said, “I’m never proper or careful, but I never curse in front of my mother, either.” We certainly need to remember the people we love and respect when we talk, but we need to think about our Heavenly Father much more.

The Bitter End!

In the sailing world the rope used to control the sail’s angle in the wind is called the mainsheet.  The mainsheet attaches to the the sail’s boom and goes through various pulleys then into your hand which you then pull in or let out to control the sail.  The end of this mainsheet, or rope, is called “the bitter end”.

So you’re sailing across the sea of life (subtle huh?) and there suddenly arises a gale force wind so strong that the sail gets whipped forward and the mainsheet is being pulled out of your hand and the bitter end is approaching!  Usually one would tie a knot just before the end to keep it from pulling through the pulleys and losing complete control of the sail, but you didn’t tie the knot.  You figured you could just hold on to the rope and use your own grip to control the sail, but the knot that should have been there would save you the struggle for control, it would have kept that boom and sail steadfast and unmoving.

Our lives need that knot to help keep them from spinning out of control when the big issues come up.  Make God the knot that keeps your sail secure, let Him help keep the bitter end from slipping through the blocks and out of your control.

‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;  his mercies never come to an end;  they are new every morning;  great is your faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”  -Lamentations 3:22-24

The Son of Man

Ok, my math skills are kinda weak, so I need some help here.  0.5 + 0.5 = 1?  Got it!  1 + 1 = 2?  Alright, on a roll!  So when does 1 + 1 ever equal 1?  When Jesus Christ was both human and God at the same time.

This isn’t a study about the divinity of Jesus, I think that most people visiting this blog already believe that Jesus was indeed God the Son in the flesh on this earth (John 1:1-2), if not, then shoot me an email and we’ll talk.  But, rather I want to take a look at Jesus, the Son of Man.

1. He was born just like you and me, though not under the same circumstances.  You, like me, we’re most likely born in a hospital.  A hospital that was clean and sterile, (mostly) free from germs.  Also, there was probably a nurse tending to your mother and a doctor that specializes in childbirth there to care for you when you were finally born.  Not Jesus, He was born in a stable, His first bed was a food trough that a horse probably ate out of minutes before He was born.  But still, He was brought into this world through a human birth (Luke 2:6-7).

2. He lived a normal life just like you and me.  Well, maybe not normal, I don’t remember teaching the elders of my congregation anything new when I was only 12 years old (Luke 2:41-51).  But what I mean to say is that Jesus worked for a living.  Mark 6:3  tells us that He was a carpenter, not an easy job even on the best of days.  His hands were calloused and he worked in the hot sun.  The average July temperature in Bethlehem today is 86° / 60% humidity, with a “nice” desert breeze.

3. He was tempted just like us in every way (Hebrews 4:15).  That really speaks for itself, you know yourself and you know the things that tempt you on a daily basis.  Try smashing your thumb with a hammer, like you know Jesus probably did given His profession, and not wanting to say something inappropriate.  But more than that, His God side (if you will) was tempted as well (Luke 4:1-12).

4. He had emotions just like you and me.  In Matthew 21:12-13 He was angered by the buying/selling and money changing going on in the temple where it shouldn’t have been.  And He cried when His friend Lazarus died, even though He knew beforehand that Lazarus would be raised from the dead (John 11:35).

5. He died, not at all like you and me.  He died FOR you and me.

And why did God the Son leave His Father’s side in Heaven to live and die for us?  So that He could mediate the difference in God’s expectations and our human failings (1 Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 2:17-18).  The God of the Old Testament is the same God that we worship today, He has not changed.  His law was perfect, but humans are not.  When God would have destroyed us time and time again for sinning against him like he has done in the past (Genesis 6:17, Genesis 19:24-25, Numbers 16:31-35, etc), Jesus can say, stop!  And tell the Father that He has been there Himself, and that we as humans are doing the best that we can (Hebrews 2:17-18).  And if we continue to do the best we can and try to live a sinless life God is faithful to forgive (1 John 1:5-10), all thanks to Jesus Christ, our mediator.

Do not be conformed to this world!

Let me introduce you to King Josiah.  He was only 8 years old when he was made the King of Judah, when he was 26 years old he found out that he and his kingdom were not right with God, and he set out to change that. 

Josiah’s story of reform is found in 2 Kings 22-23.  Josiah was already doing right by God, he had workmen and the high priest, Hilkiah, sent to the house of the Lord and they were repairing it.  While there, Hilkiah found the Book of the Law which had been lost while Judah was busy serving false gods.  Josiah sent Shaphan, his secretary, to the house of the Lord to send money and check up on Hilkiah and the workmen.  When he arrived Hilkiah gave the Book of the Law to Shaphan and he brought it back to the king. When Josiah heard the Law he was angry that the past kings of Judah had not kept the Law of God and made God angry with the kingdom.  Then, 26 year old King Josiah began to destroy every idol, altar, and chapel of the false gods in Judah. 

How can we apply this today?  Let’s read Romans 12:2.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

King Josiah saw that his kingdom had conformed to the world, they had been worshiping the idols of the land they were supposed to conquer.  When Josiah heard the Law read to him, his mind was renewed by the Law, and he set out to transform his kingdom to be acceptable and pleasing to God. 

We too must study God’s word so that we can renew our minds and transform the kingdom that is our heart to be acceptable and pleasing to God.