God Running

Both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father–Genesis 19:30-38

Lukewarm Christian

Revelation 3:16

Read Genesis 19:30-38

In verse thirty we read that Lot became afraid to stay in the little town of Zoar. Perhaps he thought that because Zoar was in the plain it would meet the same demise as Sodom and Gomorrah. Or perhaps he found Zoar to be just as debauch as Sodom. Or perhaps he simply came to the realization that he had insisted upon his own plan instead of following the instruction given him by God’s messengers, which is always a losing proposition. Whatever the reason, Lot took his daughters out of Zoar and took up residence in a cave in the mountains.

In 1 Kings, another one of God’s men found himself in a cave. After Elijah had called down fire from heaven, after Elijah had defeated the prophets of Baal, in fear for his life he fled from Jezebel to a cave in the side of a mountain. Elijah found himself in the cave of depression.

When the Lord asked, “What are you doing here Elijah?”

Elijah responded, “The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left…”

The Lord answered by letting Elijah know how far from reality he was. God said, in effect, Hey, you’re not the only one left. There are still 7,000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal. So snap out of it. I have things for you to do. (1 Kings 19)

In Lot’s cave his two daughters decide that Lot is the only man left on earth with whom they might have sex with to carry on their family name.

Both Elijah and Lot’s family were dwelling in the cave of depression where reality becomes distorted. In Elijah’s case, Elijah wasn’t the only one left. In Lot’s daughter’s case, Lot wasn’t the only man left. It’s helpful to remember that when you’re in the cave of depression, everything seems 7,000 times worse than it really is.

So Lot’s daughters, so accustomed to the lascivious culture of Sodom, so polluted by the culture they grew up in, decide that their only hope for having a family is to engage their father in an incestuous relationship. They concoct a plan to make Lot drunk with wine and then to have sex with him while he’s so out of it that he doesn’t know what’s happening.

Eldest daughter enacts the plan the first night.

Youngest daughter takes the next night.

And they both become pregnant.

Here we see again the influence of Sodom on Lot and his family. Lot becomes drunk. Lot’s daughters, rather than seeking the Lord for a solution to their problem, come up with their own plan involving incest. And the result is that the eldest daughter gave birth to Moab, Lot’s son and grandson simultaneously, and the father of the Moabites. And Lot’s second daughter gave birth to Ben-Ammi, father of the Ammonites. Of course both the Moabites and the Ammonites would become enemies of Israel making war against them and killing Israelis. The wages of sin is death, literal physical death, in this case.

Incest is an obvious sin, as is drunkenness. But there’s another mistake that Lot made here in chapter 19. One that’s easily overlooked. Lot, there in his cave on the side of the mountain, living in relative isolation, allowed himself to fall asleep, so to speak. With the influences of Sodom no longer around him, Lot fell into perhaps the most subtle and dangerous trap that a believer can fall into. Lot became sleepy, he lost his edge, he lost his spark, he let his guard down. Lot relaxed.

In Acts chapter twenty we find the story of a young man named Eutychus who was listening to the Apostle Paul teach late into the night. The young man was seated on the sill of a third story window. As the night wore on he became sleepier and sleepier until finally, he fell completely asleep and fell out of the window, plummeting to the ground from three stories up.

Falling asleep is so easy to do for you and for me in today’s culture. If you think about it, even those of us with modest means live much better today than did the kings and queens throughout most of human history. We have air conditioning, and central heat, and grocery stores, and fast food, and two hundred channels, and a thousand news outlets, and video games, and e-books, and the list goes on and on. The creature comforts we have today are amazing. There has never been a time in history when so many were so comfortable. We’re far more comfortable than Eutychus was while he was sitting on that window sill.

And that’s the problem, like Lot when we’re comfortable we’re prone to drift off course.

Church?

“Not this morning, the game’s on TV.”

“I’m supposed to play a video game with a friend I met online.”

“We’re going out to eat later.”

“I just need to stay home and relax. I just need to sleep in.”

It’s so easy to get sleepy. Perhaps easier today than at any other time in history. And when you get sleepy bad things happen. You fall out of the third story window, or you fall into sin as Lot did, or you become a body at rest that tends to remain at rest. You become a lukewarm Christian, filling your life with secular things, comfortable things, things that cause you to drift away from your Lord.

I remember a time when I felt completely in my comfort zone. Things were going well at work, I was playing basketball and golf on my days off. I spent quite a bit of time playing video games and watching TV.

“So what’s the problem?” You might be saying.

“There’s no sin in that,” you might be thinking.

Nothing that I was doing was a problem or sinful in and of itself. The problem was that I wasn’t engaged in my relationship with Jesus Christ. I was living for pleasure. Other than a short prayer in the morning when I woke up, I wasn’t doing anything that would draw me closer to Him! I was on cruise control and asleep at the wheel. I was having zero influence on anyone for God’s kingdom. Nada. Nothing. I wasn’t praying for people. I wasn’t praying for the Holy Spirit and consequently I didn’t have much in the way of love for others. I was lukewarm. All Christians have their ups and downs but I believe that had I continued that way, I would have crashed and burned, eventually. During that time in my life I was the one who Jesus said in Revelation 3:16-19 He would spit out of His mouth.

If you, dear reader, are in such a comfortable place, please, wake up! Don’t remain lukewarm. Don’t risk getting spit out. It’s not too late. After Eutychus fell three stories, Paul ran to him, embraced him, and revived him.

Run to Christ, run to church, run to your Bible, run to your prayer closet and ask God to do whatever it takes to make your relationship with Him everything He wants it to be!

He loves you. Leave the comfortable sleepy place you’re in and go to Him because of Jesus’ words:

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

Matthew 16:25-26


Genesis 19:30-38:

Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children—as is the custom all over the earth. Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.”

That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and slept with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I slept with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went in and slept with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.


[Image via Linda N – Creative Commons]

References:

Bible Gateway

Ben Courson

Blue Letter Bible

Matthew Henry

Ray Stedman

Jon Courson

Genesis 19:1-29 Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!

Jesus said, “Remember Lot’s wife.” (Luke 17:32) (Photo courtesy of devotionalonjesus.blogspot.com)


Read Genesis 19:1-29

Verse 1: The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city.

The two angels who we saw in our last couple of posts departed from the Lord and from Abraham and made their way to Sodom where they found Lot sitting in the gateway of the city. Keep in mind that these angels have no distinguishing physical characteristics that would indicate that they’re angels. No wings, no glow, no halo. As it was with Abraham, for all Lot knows, they’re just a couple of travelers.

In our story Lot begins well. He says to the two angels, Stay at my place tonight. You can wash up, spend the night in a comfortable bed. Then tomorrow you can be on your way. After some conversation that might be typical of a situation like this one: “Oh I wouldn’t dream of it.” And, “Please, I insist.” And, “I won’t take no for an answer.” They wind up at Lot’s house where Lot feeds them.

But before they go to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. All the men! The whole town comes out and surrounds Lot’s house. Can you imagine? Close your eyes and imagine your house in the middle of the night surrounded by all the men in your town. God help Lot! These men began making demands. They hollered at Lot for him to let out the two travelers so they could sexually abuse them. The Bible is very specific about what they demanded. They said, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

So Lot tries to appease them. He opens his front door, slithers through, and then quickly shuts the door behind him, the crowd pressing him, wanting to break through the door. Lot says to the crowd, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

In his desperation, Lot offers his daughters to the mob. That’s so appalling!

And also ineffective besides. Because the mob says, This outsider comes into our town and is now judging us! Who are you to judge? We’ll do to you worse than what we intended to do to them.

But the travelers weren’t ordinary travelers. They were angels. They reached out and quickly pulled Lot back into the house. Then, in the first revelation to Lot of their true nature, they struck the entire mob with blindness.

Then the two asked Lot, Do you have any people here, family, sons-in-law, sons, daughters, anyone? Get them out of here because we’re going to destroy this place. The outcry of the Lord against it is so great that He has sent us to destroy it.

So Lot sneaks out of his house, past that blinded mob, and finds his sons-in law. He warns them. He pleads with them to “Hurry and get out because the Lord is about to destroy the city!”

But his sons-in-law don’t heed his wisdom. They respond, What’s the big deal? Your view on this issue is a joke. They decide to risk staying in the city. Lot, through God’s grace, is being delivered out of sinful Sodom, and therefore it’s his duty to do what he can for the deliverance of others, especially his relations. You and I are, by God’s grace, delivered from our sin, and even as Lot did what he could to help deliver others, you and I must do what we can to bring others to Christ, especially our relations, that they too are delivered from their sin.

As dawn approached the angels are now becoming agitated and behaving more urgently. Take your wife and daughters, they say, or you’ll be wiped out when the city is destroyed!

And here Lot wavers. He hesitates. So, in God’s mercy verse 16 says, the angels take the matter into their own hands and grab Lot, Lot’s wife, and Lot’s daughters and they lead them quickly out of the city. In a way, this is a picture of salvation. Lot, who’s called a righteous man in 2 Peter 2:7, isn’t saved from the sinful city by his own actions but by God’s grace. And you and I are the same. We don’t come to Christ on our own merit, but it’s by God’s grace we’re saved.

As soon as they’re clear of the city one of the angels instructs Lot to flee further away, to get out of the plain to the mountains. And he also instructs them not to look back. These warnings also speak of our salvation. We’re to remain clear of sin, for that’s the same as looking back at Sodom. We’re to lean not on ourselves or the world, for that’s the same as remaining in the plain. And we’re to go to Mount Calvary, the place where our savior died for our sins, as Lot was to go to the mountains.

Lot, begs and pleads with them, No! Not the mountains, please let us run over to that little town over there. It’s a town sure but it’s a small town.

The angels respond, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.”

So Lot, Lot’s wife, and Lot’s daughters flee to Zoar. By the time they got there the sun was high over head. Then the Lord rained down burning debri on Sodom and Gomorrah. He destroyed the cities and all the surrounding vegetation. But He preserved Lot and Lot’s daughters. And He preserved Lot’s wife, until she turned around and looked back. Whatever supernatural destruction that God rained down upon Sodom and Gomorrah had the effect of destroying anyone who looked upon it. Filled with longing for her old life, Lot’s wife disobeyed the instructions from the angels. She looked back and she perished. (Luke 17:32)

The next morning Abraham returns to the place where he stood before the Lord. He looks down upon the plain at Sodom or Gomorrah and he sees that the cities are destroyed,  a dense column of smoke rising from the land. Today many archaeologists believe that the ruins of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah lie at the bottom of the Dead Sea. In fact the locals don’t call it the Dead Sea but for centuries have called it the Sea of Lot. Check out the satellite view of the Dead Sea on Google Maps:

. Not a lot of green to be found there.


Lot in Sodom and Sodom in Lot:

There’s something in this passage of scripture that’s so important, I can’t end the post without addressing it. At the beginning of our story, the two travelers find Lot sitting in the gateway of the city. In that time, in that culture, when a man sat in the gateway of the city it meant he was a part of the leadership of that City. The gateway of the city is where the leadership met to make policy decisions or to hold hearings. It was sort of like a city council chambers and a municipal court combined. The fact that Lot was seated there means he served as the mayor or perhaps as a councilman — he was a part of the leadership of the city of Sodom.

That’s interesting because when Lot first decided he wanted to dwell in the region of Sodom he began by first looking at Sodom. Then pitching his tent toward Sodom, he began to orient himself and his family toward the city so to speak. The New International Version says, he pitched his tent near Sodom. Then later, during the time when Abraham rescued Lot from the invasion of the five kings, we saw that Lot had moved into the city and was dwelling in a house there. (Genesis 14)

Now we see Lot has become further engaged in the culture of Sodom. He’s a part of their leadership. No doubt, with good intentions, wanting to influence the culture of the city for God’s kingdom.

That’s a noble cause. The question is though, how much of Lot’s influence found its way into Sodom, and how much of Sodom’s influence found its way into Lot?

Let’s have a look at how much success Lot had influencing Sodom. Verse four tells us that all the men in the city surrounded Lot’s house and demanded that Lot allow them to sexually abuse his guests. “All the men,” apparently not one was influenced by Lot for God’s kingdom. And when Lot addressed the mob to influence them to leave his guests alone, they responded by telling him they’d do worse to Lot than they would to his guests!

When Lot approached his sons-in-law to warn them to leave the city they thought he was a joke! They didn’t respect his warning. They disregarded his counsel, wise though it was.

In our story, Lot’s influence on Sodom never materializes. We don’t see converts. We don’t see people following Lot out of Sodom.

And how much was Lot influenced by Sodom? To Lot’s credit he took in the two strangers and even tried to protect them from the angry crowd. But he did so by offering his daughters! The value he assigned to his daughters’ purity and safety was apparently eroded away, influenced by the culture of Sodom. He had such a disregard for his daughters sexual purity that he offered them to the mob outside his house. “Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them,” he said.

And Lot’s wife, she was also influenced by Sodom. She longed for her old life there. She longed for the familiar culture there in Sodom. And as a result she perished. Lot’s family was influenced by Sodom to the point of death, at least for Mrs. Lot.

We also see Lot’s hesitation to obey the instruction that he received from God’s messengers to escape the city. Then he argues with the angels when they direct him to flee to the mountains. He pleads with them to go to the little town of Zoar instead.

Later in this chapter we’ll see Lot become entangled in incest.

How much of Sodom was in Lot? Too much.

Where are you at in relation to the culture you live in? How much of your godly influence is finding its way into the culture around you and how much of the culture around you is finding its way into you?

There’s a great truth to be learned from Lot’s story. I hear people say they want to hit the bars so they can influence people for Christ. I hear people say they want to go to the big party because they want to shed a light in a dark place. I hear people say they want to live in a certain city because that city needs God’s influence. But more often than not, they’re like Lot. They’re walking into a situation where they’ll be influenced, more than they will influence others for Christ.

When’s the last time you sought the Lord in prayer on behalf of others? When’s the last time you took someone to church? When’s the last time you shared something from the scriptures with a friend?

When’s the last time you saw evidence that someone in your circle was influenced by you, for Christ?

And what of our culture’s influence on you? When’s the last time you’ve been to church yourself?

“Yea but most of my friends don’t go to church.” You’ve been pulled away! Influenced away from your Father who wants to enjoy intimate fellowship with you. Go to church and influence your friends to go with you!

How much time are you spending in God’s word?

“Yea but I found this scripture that I don’t think could be true.” You’ve been distracted from your relationship with the One who loves you so much He died for you. Don’t let that one scripture distract you. Even the most godly have moments of doubt. Spend time in God’s word–daily.

When’s the last time you took in music that edifies God?

“Yea but secular music is so much better, that’s what me and all my friends listen to.” I’m not saying you should avoid all secular music. I’m just saying you have been drawn into the world and away from that which will draw you closer to Him. Be wise and take in that which will inspire you for Jesus Christ.

Jesus said of God’s scriptures, “…until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear…” (Matthew 5:18) Trends in culture over the last couple of millenia have come and gone and come back again. But the newest writings of the Bible are  2,000 years old yet remain true and timeless.

It’s alarming but true never the less that Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father…” (Matthew 7:21)

On that day I guarantee you, you won’t care about one single cultural trend. You won’t care about what your friends are doing. You’ll only care about Jesus’ opinion. You’ll only care about hearing the words, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

Your faith must become your own. Make changes. Make changes now. Martin Luther said it well when he proclaimed, “How soon ‘not now’ becomes ‘never’.” Start today. Draw near to God.

Come near to God and he will come near to you.

James 4:8


Genesis 19:1-29

The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”

“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”

But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

 “Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.

But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.

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, 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.”

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.

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.”

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. 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!”

But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! 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. 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.”

He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.)

By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the LORD. 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.

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.


References:

Bible Gateway

Ben Courson

Blue Letter Bible

Matthew Henry

Ray Stedman

Jon Courson


Stop doubting and believe: John 20:24-29

Doubting Thomas

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

-John 20:24-29

Missing Sunday Meeting

It’s Sunday and the disciples have assembled together. The disciples had met the Sunday before but Thomas wasn’t with them. Thomas wasn’t there when Jesus appeared to them. The disciples shared the good news of Jesus’ resurrection but Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)

Too bad Thomas missed that meeting. Had he made it, he would have experienced the bodily presence of Jesus and believed a week early. His doubt would have been erased and his faith would have been increased. But because Thomas missed that last meeting his doubt endured.

You know, if you think about it, something similar happened when Jesus appeared to the 500 after the resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15:6 tells us there were 500 present when Jesus commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised… …in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5)

Yet in Acts 1:15 it appears that only 120 of them listened and obeyed Jesus’ words. That’s huge! That means 380 missed the meeting in the upper room described in Acts 1:15. That also means 380 missed out on the blessing of the Holy Spirit. 120 had tongues of fire on their heads and spoke powerfully in foreign languages they didn’t know. 120 were used to save the souls of 3,000 people. (Acts chapter 2) 380 were left out–because they missed the meeting.

Verse 24 of John 20 says that Thomas was also known as Didymus. Didymus means twin in the Greek, so who’s twin is he?

He’s the twin of you and he’s the twin of me.

Have you ever missed a meeting with the Lord? I know I have. Missing meetings means missing out. Missing out on experiencing fellowship with the body of Christ. Missing out on believing. Missing out on increased faith. Had Thomas made it to the first meeting he would have seen Jesus and believed. His doubt would have been erased and his faith would have been increased!

That’s what happens to us when we make meetings.

Because Thomas missed the last meeting his doubt endured. It’s the same with you and the same with me. When we miss meetings, when we miss hearing the word of God whatever doubts we have endure.

No doubt Thomas and the 380 had their reasons for missing. They worked hard all week so they were too tired, or they didn’t care for someone who they knew would be attending that meeting, or there was a good game on TV that morning. But whatever their reason, when they missed the meeting they missed out on experiencing the presence of Jesus in a unique way. They missed out on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. They missed out on a tremendous blessing.

Oh twin of doubting Thomas, don’t you see that Thomas didn’t believe until he touched Jesus? Don’t you see it’s the same for you today? You won’t  believe until you touch Him.

So touch him. Study Jesus’ life in the scriptures. Encounter Jesus with His believers. Do these things and you too will believe! Like Thomas, you too will find yourself responding to him, saying, “My Lord and my God!”

You’ll never regret it, I promise you!

Make the meeting.

Go to church.

References:

Bible Gateway

Jon Courson Sermon, 4/10/2011

The image is of the painting Doubting Thomas by Caravaggio circa 1600, Wikimedia.org, Public Domain

Negativity and the Media–Think On These Things: Philippians 4:8-9

Negativity, Negative Media--Think on These Things: Philippians 4:8-9The following is a guest post from Nathaniel Bennett.

Researchers in the U.K. recently conducted a  study that showed people are most attracted to negative content on the internet. You can read about it in the article, Want to be popular on the Internet? Be a Jerk! Using a system called “sentiment analysis” they were able to categorize posts in online forums by the type of emotion they convey.  Perhaps not surprisingly, negative posts were overwhelmingly more popular.

It’s long been known that human beings are addicted to conflict. Let’s face it, conflict is entertaining. There has never been a successful movie produced that wasn’t focused on some sort of struggle. Reality shows, novels, TV dramas, Shakespeare, political radio, and even the evening news, are all popular because they appeal to our natural desire for conflict. Negativity breeds conflict and conflict sells.

It’s tempting as Christians to let negativity dominate our faith. It would be easier and certainly more entertaining to indulge in the controversy and drama that surrounds religion these days. There’s a never ending supply of things to get angry about and a vast sea of people who can’t wait to profit off it. Despite the natural attraction however, negativity is simply not where God wants our focus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:8-9

It’s interesting just how diametrically opposed that verse is to todays’ culture. We spend far too much time being angry about things that aren’t important. For instance, deep down I know that I will never, ever, under any circumstances “win” an argument on the internet, but somehow that doesn’t stop me from trying. A theological argument with a cynical stranger is probably not the best use of my time and almost certainly not helping God’s kingdom. Eventually negativity and strife will steal the limelight and push aside what’s really important.

If I’m not focusing on what’s pure, good, virtuous, and praise worthy, then I’m certainly not focusing on Jesus.

References:

[Image via: European Parliament – Creative Commons]

Biblegateway

Technotica on MSNBC.com

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

When I was in high school, in Wauconda, Illinois, there was a boy named Carl Shook in my class who had some type of debilitating disease that left him crippled. It also effected his ability to speak. Being the mush for brains high schoolers that we were, we loved to tease Carl about his body, his speech, and anything else we could think of. Carl was an easy target. In October, a month before elections would be held for Student Council government, I got the brilliant idea that it would be hilarious if I talked Carl into running for Class President. What a great joke on Carl, and on the Student Council system, if a cripple who had trouble speaking, were to run. Of course he could never win, but at least he’d campaign and the thought of Carl campaigning struck me as funny.

Carl, whose mind was not effected by his disease, and who was actually very intelligent, loved the idea of running for office. So I became his campaign manager and we filled out the proper paper work to get him on the ballot.

As I spent time with Carl I got to know him better and better. And as I got to know him, as I recruited others to help in his campaign, as I designed and created Carl’s campaign posters, something interesting began to happen. Carl’s desire, not just to run, but to win and serve as Class President, became my desire also.

God’s hand was on that election, because, amazingly, Carl won! And after he was in office he took the job seriously. Carl Shook turned out to be one of the best Class Presidents Wauconda High School ever had.

When you spend time in close fellowship with God, when you delight yourself in Him, you begin a cycle of prayer that results in Him giving you the desires of your heart.

Why? Because as you spend time with someone you become more like them, you begin to share the same feelings, the same thoughts, the same desires.

As you spend time in fellowship with God, the desires of your heart become the same as the desires of God’s heart!

You get to the point where there’s nothing you want more than the same things that God wants for you.

Do you want your prayers answered? Spend time with Jesus.

  • Go to church
  • Read God’s word
  • Pray
  • Hang out with Christians
  • Worship Him, sing praise songs and hymns to Him
  • Take communion
  • Meditate on His word
  • Serve Him
  • Invest your life in Him

Hang with Jesus and watch what happens — “He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4) For where you invest yourself is where your heart will be found. Jesus tells us:

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:21

Invest yourself in Him.



References

Bible Gateway

Chuck Smith, Living Water, p.84-85, Word for Today, 2007

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