Faith and Frailty

Faith and Frailty

Scripture: Genesis 16:1-16, Genesis 17:1-27, Genesis 18:1-33
Lesson: 8
Abram and Sarai become Abraham and Sarah as their personal and spiritual lives progress up to the destruction of Sodom.
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For a fresh, practical look into God's Word, join us now for "central study hour." Pastor Doug Batchelor and the pastoral team share new insights into the weekly lesson study. Receive power for practical living today. Good morning and Happy Sabbath. Welcome to sac central this morning for our Sabbath school and joining us for song service. A very special to you that are joining us streaming live on the internet this morning.

A special welcome to you that are joining us through television, radio, and those that are sitting here, right here in our sanctuary, welcome. To open our song service this morning, we're gonna sing "all hail the power of Jesus' Name," hymn 229. And this comes as a request from clifton garoette from Oklahoma, wallas riggs from Oklahoma, Christine welcome from the cayman islands, victoria watson from nigeria, nikida thompson from florida, David ayuba from Maryland, raulie donado from colton, California, and jamuel casuncad from the Philippines. Hymn number 229, "all hail the power of Jesus' Name," first and last verse... If you have a special request that you would like to sing with us on a coming Sabbath, I invite you to join us on our website at www.

saccentral.org, click on the music link, and there you will find where you can request one of your favorite hymns out of our hymnal. And we would love to sing that with you on a coming Sabbath. Our next hymn we're going to sing is hymn number 75, "the wonder of it all." And this comes as a request from lori warren from australia, elmer and brenda breet from new zealand, jenna Augustine from grenada, steve Johnson from grants pass, Oregon, lawrence hay from australia, and alfonso bestayong from the Philippines. Hymn number 75, "the wonder of it all..." Our Father in Heaven, what a wonder it is to know that you love us. We wonder about that all the time, and yet we are so grateful that you loved us so much that you sent Jesus to die for us, to restore us to you.

We thank you for creating us to be in your image. And we ask you this morning, Lord, just send your Holy Spirit to touch each of our hearts, these folks that are sitting here, those that are watching us, and joining us around the world. I ask you to please bless us and help us to be shining lights for you. I ask you to please be with pastor white this morning. Let His Words be Your Words.

Help us to have listening ears, that we can take to heart the things that you have to teach us about you, that we can share with others and hasten your coming. We pray these things in the precious name of Jesus. Amen. Our lesson study will be brought to us this morning by pastor harold white, the administrative pastor here at sac central. And a big thank you to our musicians.

Don't you enjoy them each week? Beautiful music they bring to us. And welcome to each and every one of you. Welcome to all those who are listening from other places in the world. We want to thank you for joining us this morning. And most of you were expecting to see pastor mike thompson this morning for the lesson.

Pastor mike, about Thursday came down with about a 101 fever. And he and pastor steve had exchanged, so that pastor mike could do it, but so steve had something else going on. And then, of course, Pastor Doug is out of the country in india. And pastor mike called jëan ross, he's done the Sabbath school lesson a time or two, and he couldn't do it. Alan parker, he's done it and he's out of state.

So, you're stuck with me. Anyway, we're happy you're here and I was meant to be here, yeah. Sometimes it's good to stretch your wings a little bit and depend upon the Lord a little bit more. You know what, that's what we need to do. Well, I want to share with you the free offer, number 706: "is obedience legalism?" Available 866-788-3966 or www.

amazingfacts.org. Well, we do have a very exciting lesson, a very interesting lesson. And it's called "faith and frailty." Now we have a memory text. And I would invite all of you to take your quarterly, and pick it up, and we're going to read it together, if you would so do with me this morning. Genesis 18:14, "is anything too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

" Well, we know a lot about faith. What about the word frailty? I think it would be good for us to get a definition of the word frailty to begin with. So I went to the dictionary and this is what it had to say: "the quality or condition of being frail," which you would expect, "or weakness, especially moral weakness." That was something that really kind of surprised me. I never realized it was especially associated with moral weakness. And the one definition especially applicable with the word, frail, says, "easily tempted to do wrong," or "morally weak.

" Is that applicable to mankind? Is it applicable to Christians? Unfortunately, yes it still is. But that's what this is all about. Now this was very interesting to me because I had just written an article for the newsletter here. I think they may be going to be handing them out today. But I was talking about the word frailty in a sense, weak spots.

It hit me as I was watching the news one day. You know, that they're, not only here in Sacramento area, but other places in the world, they're doing, spending millions of dollars to shore up the levees. Why? Because when the waters come, the floods come upon an area. If there's a weak spot in the levee, what happens? It breaks and everybody's flooded. And so I thought about comparing that to the weak spots in our lives, in our marriages, in our homes, or even in our churches.

That I thought it would be a good idea, I think it's very important once in a while to analyze where the weak spots are in our own personal lives. Because listen, do you think there's going to be a storm come upon this world pretty soon, a real storm of trial and tribulation? And when those happen, if these trials are going to rush in and try to find the weak spots, don't you think? Just like water will. Try to find the weak spots. In fact, we have many amazing statements from the pen of inspiration that one weak spot, one cherished sin will be, the, you know, the area that the devil will definitely work on. So I think it's important to ask ourselves these kinds of questions.

Now what about faith? Do we have faith? I say yes, we have faith. And number 1, the reason I say that is because, the Bible says, "God gives to every man," what? A measure of faith. It's kind of like start-up money for a business. If you have start-up money for a business, don't you have grandiose ideas of how that business will prosper? And God gives us this measure of faith. And so that's one reason I believe we have faith.

The second reason I believe we have faith is because you're all here, or you're listening from somewhere else. You wouldn't even be interested if you didn't have a degree of faith. So we all have faith. That's important for us to recognize. But I think the question is the same question that the disciples had when they came to Jesus.

In fact, could we have somebody turn in your Bible and read for us our first text this morning, Luke chapter 17, Luke chapter 17. Do we have somebody? Want to raise your hand? Right over here, poncho. Luke chapter 17, and we'll want to be looking at verses 5 and 6. Would you read Luke 17:5-6, jason? "And the apostles said unto the Lord, 'increase our faith.' And the Lord said, 'if ye had faith as a grain of a mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, 'be thou plucked up by the root and be thou planted in the sea' and it should obey you." Okay. What I really think Jesus was saying here, and he goes on, you can read the next few verses and I think it really substantiates the point, that Jesus says, "it doesn't take a lot of faith, just the size of a mustard seed.

And certainly you have that much faith." He says, he says, "just do it. You have faith, so in essence, just go ahead and do whatever it is that you need to do." It's like Ezra, the book of Ezra, there were some men who had taken strange wives from the lands that they were in. They weren't supposed to take those wives. And they were having the desire to repent. And basically God tells them, "just do it.

Go ahead and do it. You don't need more faith. Just do what you're being convicted of doing." And I think sometimes that's what God wants us to do. In fact, as you think about this story this morning as we turn to the concept of the story of Abraham and Sarah and this promise of a baby, I think we can find a great deal of application to all of this. Reminds me of the sales manager of a large, real estate firm was interviewing an applicant for a job.

And he asks this young man, he says, "why have you chosen this for a career?" "Well," he says, "I dream of making a million dollars just like my father." And the guy was quite impressed. He says, "you mean your father made a million dollars in real estate?" And he says, "no, but he always dreamed about it." And I think that, you know, that's very applicable because you know Abraham and Sarah, did they want a child? Oh boy, did they want a child. They wanted a child so badly and they hoped for it, they probably dreamed about it. And here God had given them the promise and they kept doubting and doubting and doubting. So we're going to get to this.

In fact, Abraham is listed in the Bible as one of the heroes of faith, isn't he? Over there in Hebrews chapter , Abraham is listed as one of the heroes of faith. He should have said to Sarah, "we need to start building on another room to our tent. We need to get a baby crib. We need to get the baby einstein dvds. We're going to have a baby!" He didn't do any of that, did he? They both said, "we're too old to have babies.

" Even God speaking to them they didn't believe. It's pretty amazing when you really stop to think about it. Well, would somebody else turn now to Genesis chapter 16 to get us started on Sunday's part of our lesson? Genesis chapter 16, right over here again, pancho. And roy, we'll want to have you read in Genesis chapter 16, want to have you read verses 1 and 2. If you'd do that for us, please.

"Now Sarah, abram's wife, bare him no children. And she had a handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was hagar. And Sarah said unto abram, 'behold now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing. I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her.' And abram hearkened to the voice of Sarah. And Sarah, abram's wife, took hagar, the Egyptian, after abram had dwelt 10 years in the land of canaan, and gave her to her husband abram to be his wife.

Okay, thank you. Now when you read that it sounds, well it sounds kind of amazing in a sense that just happens so matter-of-factly. But somehow I don't get the picture that it was just like this: "abram, I can't have a baby, so here's my handmaiden, hagar. Go have a baby." And abram says, "okay." I don't know. It just doesn't seem like it would happen that easily and quickly.

I think there probably had to be some coaxing. I mean if I was in Abraham's shoes, I don't know, I just wouldn't have been so easily swayed, I don't think, to jump to that kind of a thing. I think back to my age of 25 to 35. And if God would have said to me, "you know, you're going to have a baby." And the first thought would have been in my mind, "oh, we're going to have a baby." Doreen, my wife, and I are going to have a baby. That would have been my first thought.

I wouldn't even have thought about anything else other than that. But if I was older and seemingly past our time for having babies and God sent that message to me, I still wouldn't have thought to myself, "oh well, I better go get another woman and have a baby." I might have begun thinking about some things like, "well, is doreen gonna die? Does God want me to remarry?" I would still not be thinking about having a baby with another woman. Now so I'm kind of being a little bit hard on Abraham and Sarah this morning, because really what they did was a terrible sin. And the world has been paying for it ever since. You ever stop and think about it? /11, The destruction of the twin towers, really can be traced back to Abraham and Sarah.

They were the ones responsible for 9/11, you really stop and think about it, because of the problems between ishmael and Isaac. It goes back in thousands of years has been nothing but turmoil over there. There are 50% of the world today claim Abraham as a real, religious authority figure in their religion. Of that 50% of the world, it's divided into 3 areas: the jews, the muslims, and Christians. Now I know our leader, of course, is Jesus Christ.

But Abraham plays a very important part in our religion. He was a pre-figure of Christ, especially when, think about the sacrifice of God asking him to sacrifice his son, Isaac. And also we'll be joint heirs with Abraham. So ishmael was conceived because Abraham and Sarah didn't believe God. Now you can imagine as I can imagine the experts in that day probably would have sided with them, saying, "you know it's an impossibility in the field of medicine, in the field of science, the field of religion.

" They all would have backed up the idea. "Yep, Sarah's too old to have babies. I don't know what God is saying. I don't know what voices you're hearing, but must not be from God." But you know you don't even get that in the record. You don't have any indication of that.

It's kind of like Abraham and Sarah came to that conclusion all by themselves. Now I would have you notice something kind of interesting about hagar. In fact, let's get somebody on this side this time to read Genesis chapter 16. Right over here, Genesis 16. And we'll be wanting to take a look beginning with verse 6 and read verses 6 through 10 if you would, please.

"'Your servant is in your hands;' abram said, 'do with her whatever you think best.' Then sarai mistreated hagar, so she fled from her. The angel of the Lord found hagar near a spring in the desert, it was the spring that is beside the road to shur. And he said, 'hagar, servant of sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?' 'I'm running away from my mistress sarai.' She answered. Then the angel of the Lord told her, 'go back to your mistress, and submit to her.' The angel added, 'I will so increase your descendents, that they will be too numerous to count.'" Okay, thank you very much. You know when you read that, you find God very tenderly dealing with hagar.

Don't you, don't you think he was dealing very kindly and tenderly with her? Hagar, in my opinion, was a victim. I mean she was more of a victim than the lady that was brought to Christ, thrust down in front of Christ, and accused of committing adultery. First of all, she was guilty of committing adultery. Second, she was an Israelite. But what does it say about hagar? She was an Egyptian handmaiden.

So, in my mind I'm thinking about her if she even was a person of principle, I can't in my foggiest realization, imagination, think of her standing up to Abraham and Sarah, being she was a servant, "no, I can't do this thing. I cannot do this thing." It's just like, so she was a victim, because Abraham was an authority figure. And we have this in the world today. The world has come to realize that people in authority positions, who take advantage of people like ministers or teachers or bosses of firms, who take advantage of their employees and so forth, or people in a congregation or in a school, those people may, maybe even they maybe want to participate in the whatever problem or sin that's going on, but they still are the victim. Aren't they? Because of the authority figure.

So Abraham--or God deals very tenderly with hagar. And my point is God does treat victims very kindly. We have an example of that also in the Bible with Solomon. I think when God was with Solomon and he was allowing him to be with him, he has this experience with the two prostitutes. You remember the story, don't you? Where they both had given birth to a baby within 3 days of each of other.

They were in the same house. And one night, the mother rolls over on her baby and the baby dies. She realizes what happened so she switches babies with the other lady. And then they come before Solomon and they argue their case. Now of course, you know the story.

Solomon was very wise and he said, "give me a sword. I'll divide the baby, give half to each other." And the mother of the baby, the real mother, stepped forward, "no, no, let the baby live." And so Solomon knew which was the real mother. That showed great wisdom. It's a great story. But it also shows such tender concern when probably people were might have been suggesting to Solomon, "don't bother.

They're prostitutes. They brought this on themselves. Let 'em alone." But Solomon dealt very kindly with both of these ladies actually. It reminds me of the story of the lady who had aids. And the minister went to see her and she was just so, I mean she was despaired.

Life was awful. She said, "here I am, I'm lost. I can't do anything about it. I've ruined my life. I've ruined the life of everybody that I know.

" And anything the minister tried to do to comfort her didn't work. Then the minister saw a picture on the dresser and he says, "who's this?" And the lady kind of brightens up, "that's my daughter, the only beautiful think in my life." And the minister said, "well, if this daughter had done something wrong, if she had misbehaved or something, would you be willing to forgive her? Or would you disown her? Or would you still love her?" And she says, "yes," she cried, "of course I would love her. Why do you ask such a question?" Minister says, "because I want you to realize God has a picture of you on his dresser." I kind of like that, don't you? God probably doesn't have a dresser in heaven there, but certainly he has a picture of you on his mind. And he loves you very much. Treating people tenderly.

God does treat people kindly and tenderly. I think one thing Sarah overlooked was when she wanted to give the handmaiden to Abraham to have this child, or maybe this is what she was thinking: "well, Abraham, go and have this baby, but don't have any feelings for this lady." Or she might of underestimated hagar. "Well, she's just a servant. She doesn't have right to any feelings. She can have this baby and it'll be my baby.

And she doesn't, it doesn't matter because she's just a servant." But everybody has feelings, don't they? And everybody matters. And so she underestimated things quite badly, I think. But let's go on to Monday's lesson. And it's talking about "the covenant reiterated." Now this time as the lesson points out, Sarah is privy to the promise. That has a ring to it, doesn't it? Privy to the promise.

Are you privy to promises? I hope so. Because the Bible's full of them, isn't it? Privy to the promise. It has a nice ring to it. Anyway, Sarah is well beyond the childbearing age, at least everyone thought. And I would have us note something interesting, at least it was to me.

It couldn't have been a question about Abraham's ability to have a child. Now why do I say that? It was all about Sarah, because after they have the baby, Isaac, he grows to adulthood and he gets married. So he's at least in his 20s, I'm not sure. I should have looked up how old he was when he got married, between 20 and 30 probably before he got married, maybe even 30. So 30, 20 years have passed.

Abraham's even older, Sarah dies. And the Bible says that Isaac took Rebekah into Sarah's tent and they became man and wife. And Isaac was comforted. And then after that, Abraham gets married again to a lady by the name of keturah. And she gives him six children.

He's an old, old man by now. But he's still having children. So all of this had to do with Sarah being past the age of being able to have a baby. Now it's one thing to have faith when you're somehow still in control. I don't know about you, but don't you like it when you're driving the car a little bit better than when somebody else is? It makes me nervous the older I get when somebody else is driving.

But when I'm driving, I'm still in control at least. And I have faith that I'm gonna be able to get to where I'm going. Sometimes I don't have faith when the other person's driving so much. And probably that was a little bit how it was with Abraham knowing that problem wasn't with him. It certainly wasn't his problem, but anyway.

But can you imagine how they probably could have sit around and talked about this issue for--analyzed the situation? "The message was from God or was it not from God? Well, what did he exactly say?" They could have analyzed this thing to the nth degree and fallen into that dreaded disease called paralysis by analysis. Have you ever heard of that? I think sometimes the church is guilty of that. Paralysis by analysis. We analyze everything so much instead of actually getting out and doing what we're supposed to be doing, we stop to analyze things to the nth degree. But it even applies to very wonderful themes, like righteousness by faith.

You know this church probably has spent more hours on the subject of righteousness by faith, seminars, and people getting together from all over the world to come and study it. When really simply righteousness by faith is believing in God enough that you want to do right things. Isn't that about what it amounts to? You believe in God enough that you want to live right, eat right, think right. I don't know, maybe I'm getting too simple, but it sure seems like we analyze some things just a little too much. It reminded me of a question a minister asked in class once.

Which act of charity is higher, giving out of obligation or giving from the heart? Well, the class wanted to respond right away, you know, "giving out of the heart." That sounds like a good answer. But knowing the minister they probably felt he had something else in mind, and he certainly didn't let them down. He says, "giving from the heart is a wonderful thing, is a very high act and should never be demeaned. But there is something much more important that happens when somebody gives charity out of obligation. When we give out of an obligation, when we give it a moment, that every part of us is yelling, 'no, no, no,' maybe because of the person who's receiving the funds is disgusting, or there's just too much money, or one of a thousand reasons we use to avoid giving, then we are confronting our own egos," he says, "and giving nonetheless.

Why? Because it's the right thing to do." So maybe not just giving from the heart is the most important, but giving even when you don't feel like it, because it's the right thing to do. Isn't that how we should live our lives? Sometimes you don't feel like doing what's right. In fact, you feel like doing what's wrong. But it's better to do what's right, don't you think? Right doing, right living, right giving, right faith. Well, let's move on to Tuesday's.

And would somebody read Genesis for us? Okay, right back there. We want to turn to Genesis 18. We're talking about the Lord on earth. And beginning with verse 10, read through 14, 10 through 14, if you would, andrew. "And he said, 'I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.

' And Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, 'after I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my Lord being old also?' And the Lord said to Abraham, 'why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?' Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.'" Okay, thank you very much. Oh, to have a voice like that myself, that would be great. Thank you.

When we hear a text like that, "'is anything too hard for the Lord?'" And we say, "no, no, no." We get excited. That kind of, really that kind of text really generates faith, doesn't it? And I've heard people use texts like that and just have all kinds of faith and start claiming faith, and start claiming that God is going to do wonderful things for them. But sometimes they're basing that on something that God has not promised. Here we can know that they should have had genuine faith because God even said it with his own mouth, "here's what's going to happen." But sometimes people get so disappointed because they have all this faith after reading a text like that and then nothing happens. Well, nothing happens because that wasn't God's will in the first place.

God never promised that particular thing. We always need to pray when we don't know what God's will on a certain situation is, we always need to pray, "thy will be done." Yeah, I think so. So, yes have faith, but make sure it's faith based upon real promises and I think we'll be much better off. It's kind of like the three worthies in the fiery furnace. In fact, would somebody turn and read Daniel 3 for us? When they were thrust into the fire, Nebuchadnezzar says--and who is, who's gonna read that for us? Right over here, pancho.

Raise your hand there. Okay, Daniel 3. Nebuchadnezzar says, "who is the God who will deliver you out of my hands?" And their response is in Daniel :17-18. "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thy hand, o king. But if not, be it known unto thee, o king, that we will not serve thy Gods, nor worship the golden image which thou has sent up.

" Okay, thank you. Here they were in this fiery furnace, or just about ready to be thrown in. And Nebuchadnezzar asks them, "who's gonna save you?" And they said, "well, you know, God can. We know that." That was exhibiting faith. But they had not been given a promise directly from God that they would be saved from that fire.

So they said, "you know even if God doesn't, 'cause we don't know yet. We've never been given that promise. If he doesn't, that's okay too." And that's the way we all should be, shouldn't it? Sometimes we have terrible things happen in our life. And we all will come to that point in our life where we face death square in the face. And if it's God's will to let us sleep until Jesus comes, we should say, "okay.

That's God's will," and put everything in the hands of the Lord. And this is very especially applicable to this day's lesson, because as the lesson brings out, it was God who came down to earth. And the word used for Lord there was a four-letter, Hebrew word, which is translated, jehovah. And it meant "God The Father." So God really came down to earth and is giving these promise, appeared in human form to Abraham. So there was no room for presumption, for them to claim this as a promise, and there should have not been any room for doubt either.

But alas, even though God himself might show himself to mankind or speak audibly to mankind, give us the entire word, and even more, some people will choose not to believe, won't they? Well, the lesson this week moves from the story, from this story to a whole different story altogether, which is kind of interesting. Lessons don't usually do that so rapidly, but we've changed stories very quickly. But before we go to the next story, consider one thing about this Abraham and Sarah situation. Stop and think about how much happiness they missed out on. You know, they could have been happy by just believing what God said.

But Sarah grieved and grieved and grieved because she wasn't gonna have a child. But God said she was gonna have a child. She should have been rejoicing. She should have been happy. So what it tells us that happiness is a matter of choice, isn't it? You can be happy if you choose to be happy.

You can choose to be happy because God is on your side. They missed out on so much happiness just by not believing. You ever remember, I don't know, maybe none of you have ever played it, but as a child would play the game, "hide the thimble." Anybody ever play, "hide the thimble?" One person gets the thimble, you know, that's a thimble what ladies use for sewing. And one person hides the thimble while the other close their eyes. And then when you open your eyes, you start hunting for the thimble.

And the person that hid it gives clues. And the clues they give is if you're getting closer to where it was hidden, you say, "you're getting hot, you're getting hot." Or if you're moving away from where it was hidden, they say, "oh, you're getting cold. You're getting cold." Well, how would you like to play a game like that with somebody, that every time they got closer and they said, "you're getting hot," they moved in the other direction? Or every time they go to the cold place, they say, "you're getting cold," and they keep going in that direction. That wouldn't be very much fun, would it? And I think it would be somewhat the same with God. "Here I am telling you you're going to have a child.

And you still don't believe me." That must have grieved God's heart. I think sometimes we do the same thing by expressing doubt instead of faith. Don't you? We should be people of faith, believing everything God has said. Now when you think about this story of light of all we must come to the conclusion that happiness is a matter of choice, not circumstances. Now, let me ask you, are you happy? I hope you are.

You can be. All you need to do is choose it. A Bible is packed full of wonderful promises. And this is something that preachers in previous generations could not have said to their congregations with as much gusto or enthusiasm as one might say today. And it all has to do with the Elijah message.

We are to be giving the Elijah message, right? And we may be translated just like Elijah was. Isn't that an awesome thought? I mean think about it. Elijah was translated, never tasting death. And we are to give the Elijah message. And we're living in the time of the end.

And actually some of us, maybe all of us could still be living when Jesus comes, and we would have the privilege of being translated. Wow, that just, I don't know, somehow it just makes me so excited to even think about that. Well, we should be happy people. Abraham should have been happy, but, and Sarah, but they missed out by not believing. Well, we must move on to our lesson.

We are changing stories, as I said, quite abruptly. But we're still sticking to the title, "faith and frailty," because there's a whole lot of frailty in the story we're moving to. Would somebody please read Genesis 19? Turn to Genesis 19. Back there. And we're going to want you to be reading Genesis 19 and would you begin with reading verse 1 and read through verse 5, Genesis 19:1-5? "And there came two angels to sodom at evening, and lot sat in the gate of sodom.

And lot seeing them, rose up to greet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. And he said, 'behold now, my Lords, turn in I pray you into your servant's house and tarry all night, and wash your feet; and ye shall rise up early and go on your ways.' And they said, 'nay, nay, but we will abide in the street all night.' And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him and entered into his house. And he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat. But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter. And they called unto lot and they said unto him, 'where are the men which came into thee this night? Bring them out unto us that we may know them.

'" Okay, thank you very much. By the way, don't we have some wonderful readers here at Sacramento central? You know, we actually get e-mails from people listening who say, "boy, you've got some good readers there." And we do. Praise the Lord. But you know this is really awful material here. This is an awful stuff, isn't it? If this were in a movie, it would be x-rated.

This is bad stuff. It's just awful. This was the kind of city this sodom was, that lot was living in. And the thing about it, the tragic thing about it, lot didn't have to be there. He had the means.

He could have had a more rural setting just like his uncle Abraham. But he chose to be there. He had a lot of influence to stay where he was, because of his wife and his children and his in-laws, and everybody wanted to stay right there in the city because they enjoyed the city life. But as the lesson points out, this was not a rare situation, as the Bible says, "both the young and the old came from every corner of the city." This was not just some, a few people, who had got high on alcohol from some gay bar and came to their house. It was people coming from all over the city.

This was a very prevalent, bad situation. In fact, it was the straw that broke the camel's back when it comes to the long-suffering of God. And that was it. He had seen enough. He was going to destroy sodom and also gomorrah.

And so the story unfolds and it actually gets worse as you know. Lot offers his daughters instead of these angels, which in essence they were, these angels. They wanted the angles to come out. They thinking they were men. And he offers his daughters.

Of all the stories in the Bible, this is one of the hardest ones for me to relate to in this sense that God still shows him so much mercy. So I had to try to dig into this, you know, find what were some of the possibilities he could do such a thing as this. Well, I can tell you right off, I didn't come up with enough evidence that lets lot off the hook at all. I'm telling you, it's a terrible thing he did. But I did find some of these things.

It said, "lot was attempting to make these vile men ashamed of their evil purposes." That may be one reason. Oriental hospitality meant that you protect your guests to the extent that you would even risk your own life. Now that would have been all right if he actually had risked his own life, but he was risking his daughter's life. So that doesn't hold too much water with me. Another thought came to mind; perhaps lot was comparing sin with sin, that homosexual adultery was worse than just plain adultery.

And to that I say that's the danger of comparing sin with sin. Isn't it? Sin is sin and it's all designed to take us to the wrong direction, right? Destroy us. Sin is sin. And once we start playing this comparison game, you know how easy it is to go out and say, "well, I'm surely not into sin that bad, as bad as so and so." So we kind of excuse ourself because it isn't as bad as somebody else's sin. And so that's not a game we need to play.

What we're talking about as we get over, let's see, to what is it? Wednesday's lesson, "on the eve of doom." Certainly was on the eve of doom for them. Wasn't it? Do you think we're on the eve of doom? How many of you think we're on the eve of doom? You know I asked a class this not too long ago. It was I think it was a prayer meeting, probably 70, 80 people in attendance. I said, "how many of you think we have 75 years until Jesus comes." Or I said, "how many of you think Jesus will come before 75 years?" All, every hand went up. I said, "how many of you think Jesus will come before 50 years?" Every hand went up.

I said, "how 'bout 25?" Every hand went up. I didn't take it any farther than that I don't think, because I don't want to get into this concept of trying to pick out times and date settings at all, because that's certainly something we've been warned against. Even though some people are saying, "you know, the text says, 'we cannot know the day or hour,' but we maybe can know the year." I think we have to be very careful with that too, because of all that we have been told about setting times. But we can know that Jesus' coming is soon, right? So here was lot and his family in sodom. And they were so accustomed to the sinful life all around them that probably wasn't affecting them too much.

They probably just took it for granted. Somewhat like you think we do today? Reminded me of a man that came to church one day and both of his ears were just, had been burned badly. And the concerned pastor says, "man, what happened to you?" He says, "well, I was watching tv the other day and my wife was ironing. And she left the room and the iron was still on and the phone rang. And I was so engrossed in the tv I kept watching and reached out and grabbed the iron and put it to my ear.

" Minister says, "wow. Ouch." He says, "well, what happened to the other ear?" He says, "well, the man had not hung up but a second and he called back." So he answered it with the other ear. That's really being engrossed in the world. Isn't it? But aren't we about that engrossed in the world today? If you stop and think about it, if we don't allow ourselves to get into the word and really focus upon the good things, I mean it is so full, the world is so full, of attention getters that we're all trapped if we are not careful. We have to be extremely careful.

Well, we need to hurry on here. Let's go to Genesis 19. Somebody want to read for us? Right over here, pancho. Genesis 19. This is a really an amazing story and we want to read in Genesis 19:9-14.

"And they said, 'stand back.' And they said again, 'this one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them.' And they pressed sore upon the man, even lot, and came near to break the door. But the men put forth their hand, and pulled lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door. And the men said unto lot, 'hast thou here any besides? Son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: for we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the Lord; and the Lord hath sent us to destroy it.' And lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.

" Okay, thank you very much. There's just so much in all this, it's hard to know where to start. We're running short on time, but we--you know one of the first things that came to my mind as I was reading through this story again was where was mrs. Lot during all this that was happening? Seeing the hand of mercy so prevalent by God, where was she? How could she ever have turned her back on and looked back and so forth? Where was she? Then the next thought came to my mind was you notice God is so merciful. Phew.

I mean, I can venture a guess there's times in your life that God has almost taken your hand and drawn you out of a situation like he has me, where we were lingering a little too close to sin, playing with fire, and yet God delivered you from that. Isn't that amazing? God is wonderful. That's all we can say. And so we think about sodom being destroyed. That's Thursday's lessons.

Lot bargains with the angel. And he says, "we don't want to go, please let us go to this little town. I don't want to go to the mountains. And so the angel gives in and he was able to go to zoar, I think it's pronounced. Why was he--why didn't he want to go to the mountains? He was afraid, wasn't he? Now think about it.

Have we been told in the Bible that in the very end of time we may have to flee to the mountain? So what I'm thinking is we better get some thinking going on in our minds, that hey, if God leads us to the mountains, we don't have to be afraid, because if God leads us there, he's there with us. Right? But if you don't get to think about those things now, when it happens you might be caught unawares like poor lot was and be afraid to go to the mountains. You may be afraid to take off. But God was with them and God will be with us. Now, in verse 29 of that chapter, in fact I want to read that, verse 29, very quickly.

"And it came pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in which lot dwelt." So you kind of get the concept that God saved lot because of Abraham. Is intercessory prayer important? I think this is the prime example of how intercessory prayer is so important. Are there people in your lives that need intercessory prayer? I think we need to be spending a great deal of quantity time and quality time praying for our loved ones before it's forever too late. I believe our prayer meetings ought to be bursting open with people coming interceding for people we care about. Man, just think of it, one day soon it's going to be too late.

No more prayers will be able to be offered one day soon. And so the story of lot certainly does send out a theme thought that we must turn our back on sin. Do you believe that? We need to turn our back on sin. And the story of mrs. Lot says we not only need to turn our back on sin, we need to distance ourself from sin.

Do you agree with that? And we need to distance ourself from sin. Get away from it. Don't linger close to it. Study your weak spots. Know what they are.

And flee from those weak spots. Shore up the weak spots through the grace and power of God. I heard this far-fetched story. I'm gonna share it with you, probably have a little time to do so. It's about a man who was hired by the highway department.

And this is back when times were a little different. Doesn't have the high tech quality of machinery they have today. And they wanted to test this young man out. So they took him to a kind of a place where there wasn't much traffic, a stretch of road. And they wanted him to paint the white lines down the center of the road with a brush, you know.

So they put him out there and at the end of the day they go pick him up and man, they are impressed. This guy really wants to do his best. So he works hard and they are impressed. "Man, he sure did work hard. He got a lot of ground covered.

" Next day they put him out there again and they realize, "well, he didn't cover as much ground today. Maybe he's tired from yesterday. Actually, he worked pretty hard yesterday." But each day, they noticed that he kept getting less and less, until by the end of the week he hardly had done much. And so they had to bring him in and talk to him. And supervisor said--well, you know first he said, he was a good supervisor and he said, "you know you did a really good job Monday.

You really got a lot of work done. But we couldn't help but notice each day your work slacked off, and by the end of the week, you really didn't get much accomplished. Why is that?" And the man says, "well, each day the paint can kept getting farther away." And you say "how foolish of this man to go back to the starting point and dip his brush into the paint can and go back out and paint a line." And you'd say, "that is foolish." And indeed it is. But how foolish of us to go dip our paint cans, paint brushes into the paint cans of sin, back into the world where we came from. How foolish of us to go back and to do something like that, whereas we should be like, we should learn from the story of lot's wife.

And not only resist, but turn our backs on sin, but separate, get distance between us and sin. You think that's true? I do. I think we're living a time where we need to say that is just pure foolishness for us to ever dillydally around with sin in any way. We need to keep focusing on Christ so much. What we need to do is scale the mount of contrition and plant our flag of commitment on the mount of contrition.

I like that thought. We need to be very contrite for our sins and live in a state of contrition. And each step of the way we should be relishing the view of where he is leading, and not looking back and lamenting how things could have been, or how we hoped they were, or wished they could be, but thanking God for all of his promises. You see lot's wife was, she was just kind of really playing the game. She was a part of a religious family.

Lot was a man who claimed to profess to believe in God. But she really wasn't for real, because her heart still was in the world. Was it not? And we cannot allow that to happen to us. Our hearts must not be attached to the world. If this story tells us anything, we need to be being purified by the grace and power of Christ in our lives.

Now I want to remind you again that there is a free offer. And it is number 706, "is obedience legalism?" Make sure you call in to 866-788-3966, or go to your internet and go to www.amazingfacts.org.

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