Are You Pitching Your Tent Toward Sodom?

TentAs Abraham and his nephew Lot left Egypt, both were very wealthy and there was strife between the workers of each man.  So Abraham said that they should split up and gave Lot first choice of the land that he wanted.  Lot saw the beautiful lush plain of Jordan and chose that, while Abraham went to Canaan which God would give to him as “The Promised Land”.

It says in Genesis 13:12 “Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.  But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.”  So Sodom was indeed full of wicked people, and originally Lot stayed outside the city, but notice that he placed his tent so he was looking straight at the city.  He desired to look upon the wickedness.  Don’t we do the same?  We see sinful things, and they give us pleasure to look upon.  And then in our minds we say, “It doesn’t hurt to look at this, I’ll just look but I will never partake in it”.  This is very dangerous and will cause us to fall every time.  The next time Lot is mentioned, he is now living in Sodom.  The lust of his eyes eventually talked him into moving to the wicked place.

lotangelsGod decided the wickedness was so great that he was going to destroy the entire city.  He sent two angels into the city to tell Lot to get his family out of the city, for it was to be destroyed.  The wicked men of that city were trying to break down the doors of Lot’s home so that they could have sexual relations with these angels.  Lot had changed so much that he offered up his virgin daughters to these men instead.  This shows just how much Lot had been affected by living in this sinful place.  He was trying to throw his daughters to these wicked men.  When we look upon sin, it will eventually consume us.

destruction-of-sodom5-662x470Later as Lot and his wife and daughters left Sodom, and fire and brimstone rained down destroying the city, the angels told them not to look back on the city, but to move forward.  But Lot’s wife could not help herself and looked back on the city.  She was immediately turned into a pillar of salt.  She could not resist looking back on the wicked city and longing to go back.  How often do we get away from our sin, but something inside of us causes us to look back upon it and desire it again?  Just the same as this desire destroyed Lot’s wife, looking back longingly upon your sin will destroy your own life.  We must leave sin behind us and move forward in the love of God’s forgiveness.  This is the only way we will flourish and be joyful.  Sinful desires only weigh us down and will ultimately destroy us.  Don’t be like Lot and gaze upon sin from a distance because soon enough you will be living in sin and you and your family will be destroyed because of it.  Let’s look to where God takes us forward, and never look back upon our sin with desire as Lot’s wife did.
Luke 17
29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
31 In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.
32 Remember Lot’s wife.
33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

Will You Stand Alone?

Stand for what is rightA while ago I made the statement “As long as you are on God’s side, it doesn’t matter who is on the other side, even if it means that you are standing alone.”  You may ask, What does that mean?  In the world today it seems that an ever growing majority of people are abandoning God and the teachings of his word.  This is nothing new.  History has repeated this over and over again as recorded in the bible.  The question is, do we learn from this history?  What stance should we take?  Let’s look at some characters of the bible who stood for God in the midst of a vast majority (or all) of the people who stood against them and against God.

Noah lived Noah mockedin a time of great wickedness as it describes in Genesis 6:5 “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”  So God said that he would destroy the entire earth and everything in it.  But verse 8 is a wonderful verse for us all.  It says “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”  In the midst of an entire world of wickedness there was still one man that stood for God.  God gave Noah specific instructions to build an ark, and what to fill it with, and verse 22 says “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.”  There is little doubt that Noah was scorned and ridiculed during this time.  But because Noah stood alone for God, in the midst of millions of people who were wicked, he and his family were saved while all others were destroyed.  And the New Testament says this about Noah in Hebrews 11:7 “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”  I’m thankful that there was a man named Noah who stood alone for God.david-and-goliath-2

David was a young man who lived in a time when there was a Philistine giant named Goliath.  Goliath was calling for someone to be brave enough to fight him while cursing the God of Israel.  There were thousands of Israelite soldiers and their leader Saul (who was the tallest among them).  The bible says that Saul and all of these soldiers were sore afraid of this giant and allowed him to continue mocking God for 40 days.  They remained silent and did nothing.  David was sent by his father to the battle, with food for his brothers, who were among the soldiers in Saul’s army.  When David heard this giant mocking God, he wanted to kill this Philistine giant.  David’s brother was angry at David for even suggesting fighting the giant.  But David answered him “Is there not a cause?”  Saul said David could not fight the giant because he was just a youth.  But David answered him “The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine”.  Saul agreed to let David fight and placed his armor and sword upon David.  But David said that he had not tested that armor, and took it off.  He would fight with what he knew.  He took his sling and gathered five smooth stones.  David fought in the name of the Lord and won the battle that day.  He killed the giant and the great Philistine army fled in fear.  He did not need great armor.  He only needed courage and God by his side.  I’m thankful that there was a man named David who stood alone for God.

elijah-call-down-fireElijah was a prophet who lived when there was a wicked King of Israel named Ahab.  Ahab had led the people to abandon serving God and had built an altar unto Baal.  God told Elijah to go and present himself before Ahab.  The bible records their conversation in 1 Kings 18:20-22 “So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.”  So Elijah was standing up for God, but the people were silent.  Elijah presented a challenge to these four hundred fifty prophets of Baal.  In 1 Kings 18:24 Elijah says “And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.”  So those prophets cried out to Baal, prophesied, cut themselves but the fire never came.  Then Elijah built an alter for the Lord.  He put on the sacrifice and told them to pour water over it.  And then pour more water over it again and again until the entire trench was filled with water.  Then Elijah called out to God and then this happened in 1 Kings 18:38 “Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.  And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.”  I’m thankful that there was a man named Elijah who stood alone for God.

daniel_in_the_lions_den_zoomDaniel lived during a time when the king’s name was Darius.  Darius loved Daniel and the king was going to make Daniel as his second in command.  The king’s other men wanted this position and schemed to come up with a way to bring down Daniel.  It says in Daniel 6:4-5 “Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.”  So they tricked the king into signing a law that allowed only worship of the king himself for 30 days.  Daniel heard the law but he continued to pray 3 times a day just as he had always done.  The men caught Daniel breaking this law and had him thrown into the lion’s den.  But God sent his angel to close the mouth of the lions.  After God did this for Daniel, the men who accused Daniel were thrown into the lion’s den and eaten.  Then Darius wrote that all men should fear and serve the God of Daniel, and Daniel went on to prosper and reign alongside king Darius.  I’m thankful that there was a man named Daniel who stood alone for God.

These all have a common theme.  They were men who stood for God in the midst of a wicked world.  What lessons can we learn from these men?

  1. Will you be a Noah?  Will you stand up for God and do precisely what God instructs you to do in a world that is evil continually?
  2. Will you be a David?  Will you stand against those that openly mock God.  Will you fight alone for God while all the other Christians are too afraid and stand silently aside?
  3. Will you be an Elijah?  Will you fight to turn people’s hearts back to the one true God and his word when seemingly everyone else has turned their back on God?
  4. Will you be a Daniel?  Will you serve God no matter who tells you that you can’t.  As government becomes more and more anti-God, will you continue to serve God as you should?

Throughout history there have been times when it is easy to serve God, and there have been times when it has been life threatening to serve God.  And while we are still free to serve our God right now, I believe that we are heading towards a difficult time to serve our God as we should.  As greater and greater majorities of people mock and spit on the name of our God, will you become silent?  Will you join in mocking to fit into the crowd?  Or will you stand for God, even if that means you are standing alone?  As we can see from history, standing alone when we are on God’s side, is not standing alone at all.  God has never, nor will ever, be defeated.  It takes courage to stand up in the crowd and do what is right.  Fitting in with the crowd is the easy thing to do.  Be courageous and stand alone with God and I can promise you that you will never be alone again.  We should not be concerned if God is on OUR side, because we often times fail.  We should only be concerned that we are on God’s side because he is always right and he never fails.  I want to be a David and stand up to the giant majority who mock my God.  Will you?

Jeremiah 20:11 “But the Lord is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten”

Romans 8:31 “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”

Deuteronomy 20:4 “For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.”

Deuteronomy 3:22 “Ye shall not fear them: for the Lord your God he shall fight for you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee”When-God-is-All-Youve-Got

Seasons Reveal the Glory of God

I’m so thankful that I live in an area of the world where we get to see all the various seasons in their full glory.  I don’t think we can truly appreciate what each season brings to us, unless we get to see each one in its fullness.  During the cold winters, we tire of being indoors, and seeing the dreariness of the lifeless outside world, and we dream of the new flowers, and trees blooming, and the warmth and the smell of spring.  During the spring, we tire of the rain that comes, and we look toward the sunshine that summer brings.  During the summer, we tire of the overwhelming heat and humidity, and look to the cool air that the fall brings, and playing in the beautiful color of the falling leaves.  During the fall, we tire of raking the leaves, and look toward Christmas, and that brings dreams of that beautiful winter Christmas snowfall.  And then the process starts all over again.  I truly enjoy what each season brings to us, and I think the seasons are very representative of what God has done for us.

Fall begins full of color and beauty, but eventually the leaves fall, and the flowers whither and die, and nature becomes lifeless.  I believe this is a great representation of the beautiful perfect life that Christ lived, but which lead into his crucifixion and ultimately his death.

Winter comes, and snow falls, burying the lifeless earth with pure white beauty.  I see this as a great representation of them taking the lifeless body of Christ, covering his body in white, and burying him in that tomb.

Then spring comes, and new life springs up all over, flowers bloom, trees bloom, and there is a sweet smell in the air.  This is a perfect representation of the resurrection of Christ, and the blessings of the new life that he now offers us.

Summer finally comes and is full of sunshine and warmth.  I see this as a great representation of the eternal warmth of heaven, and the love of God that all Christians look forward to.  So the next time you start to complain about the seasonal weather, think of what each season represents, and see if it might give you a new appreciation and thankfulness in your heart.  They always say you can’t appreciate the sunshine if you didn’t have rain.  Every season is precious in it’s own way.  And it’s the same way with Christ.  We couldn’t have life without his death.  All things are done for the glory of God.

Psalm 74:16-17 “The day is thine, the night also is thine: thou hast prepared the light and the sun. Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter.”

Song of Solomon 2:10-13 “My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.  For, lo, the winter is past , the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”

2 Corinthians 4:15 “For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.”

Will You Praise Him In The Storm?

PraiseYouInThisStormIt is easy to praise God when we are on the mountaintop, and everything in our lives is going great.  But it can be difficult to give praise when we are in the valley, and going thru trials, and life is beating us down.  But God is worthy to be praised regardless of our situation, and only God’s healing hand can bring us thru trials stronger than we began.

Psalm 34:19 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.”

Being a Christian does not mean that you won’t suffer, it just means that you have a hand reaching out to you that is strong enough to pull you out of any problem that you will face.

Psalm 30:11-12 “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.”

As David writes here, God turned his mourning into dancing.  God can and will do the same for you.  But do you only cry out to God when you need him?  Do you give him proper praise and thanks when he delivers you?  Do you forget about God when things are going well for you?

Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me”

How many of us will say this as we walk thru the valley of the shadow of death?  We can if our faith is strong, because we know the promises that God has made to us.  We can have the peace of God, who will take away all of our fear, if we remain strong in our faith.

John 10:29 “My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”

We can be assured that no matter how low that we feel, no man can take us away from God if we are his child.

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

We can be confident and strong because God has promised that he will never fail us, nor forsake us.  If we remember that, it will be easy to praise Him in the storm, because he is our salvation, and he is our solution to every problem. Praise him in the good times, praise him when we are wondering, and praise him when we have no where to turn.  He will hear us, he will heal us, and he will comfort us when no one else can.  He is worthy of all our praise.

Psalm 150

1 Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.

Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.

Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.

Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.

Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.

Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.