Really? He Could Do Such a Thing?

And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight?  Bring them out to us, that we may know them.”  Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly.  Behold, I have two daughters.  Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please.  Only do nothing to these men.”  Genesis 19:5-8

It’s easy for me to be so shocked by what happens at this point in the story of Lot and his family that I will read from a distance, point an accusing finger, and refrain from asking what I can learn from it about myself.  At first glance, I’ll experience outrage.  “Lot, sacrificing his daughters to a mob?  How horrible.”  And it was.  But this sinful response of Lot to the gang who desired to rape Lot’s two visitors didn’t begin and end on this night.

When I think about the worst sin I have committed, it was never done spur of the moment.  There had been a trail of thoughts and deeds that preceded it.  One doesn’t just turn on God unexpectedly and sin greatly.  Even if it appears that way to others, be assured that in my heart, there were multitudes of choices and beliefs that paved the way for mutiny.

Lot had never shown unwavering fidelity toward God.  (Neither did Abraham but he was quick to repent when he strayed.)  Lot made a series of decisions, some appearing small, that were never corrected.  Sin is insidious over a long period of time.  It not only kills and destroys but it deceives.  If I have a history of a sinful habit, I should know that, with time, comes longstanding deception in some part of my life.  I will be the last to see it if I’m not in the Word or in the company of someone who teaches the Word.

“Lot, what is the effect of moving to Sodom with your family and living in a triple X society?”  He would affirm what scripture teaches.  The effect is numbness.  A seared conscience.”  To offer his daughters as bait to a gang didn’t seem anywhere near as outrageous to Lot as it does to those of us who read about it.  But here’s the thing.  The worst thing I have done didn’t appear to me, at the time, to be outrageous either.  I had paved the road to that pivotal moment with bricks of subtle rebellion.

Don’t let me read this like a novel and point my finger at Lot.  Help me see the log in my own eye.  Amen

Yes, It’s Still In There!

The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.”  Genesis 19:1-2

If Lot were your nephew, your son, or your husband, would you have given up on him?  He has made a series of foolish decisions while in a relationship with you.  The last one took him to Sodom to flirt with a culture that was hostile to your God.  You were heartsick.  Yet, two men arrived, and though danger was imminent, Lot’s courage and faith sprang into action.

He was not dead to faith even though foolish.  His sojourn into spiritually dangerous territory did not kill every righteous seed God planted in his heart. 

Time just creeps along while we’re waiting for the spiritual return of someone we love.  We envision the bleeding effects of their environment on their love for Christ.  We assume that the fidelity of their faith is wasting away.  Will they even hear God when He comes calling? 

Seeds of faith are preserved, especially when loved ones pray for the one who is no longer walking God’s path.  All is not dead in his heart although his choices beg to prove it.  The culture of lawlessness has influenced him, and by all appearances, he seems to have completely caved to its pressures.  But we underestimate a God who stirs the embers of faith in places no one can see.  He performs spiritual surgery in the subconscious while the prodigal sleeps to keep distant memories alive. While no one can guarantee his return because free choice still plays into the equation, a beautiful outcome is still on the table.  It’s possible as long as there is life and breath, as long as those who love him are engaged in the battle, on their knees.

Over whom are you crying today?  Over whom are you tempted to stop praying?  Don’t do it!  Weep, certainly, but not without hope.  God would tell you that the faith you long to see evidence of ~ is still in there.  Long ago, God sent His word into the spirit of your loved one and it is still accomplishing the purpose for which it was sent. 

Even in Sodom, you can keep the embers of faith alive.  Amen

Look Who Is Mayor!

The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.  Genesis 19:1

When the angels arrived at the city gate, whom should they meet but Lot.  How shocking!  He had gone from a foreigner to the mayor of the city.  (The one who sits at the gate to welcome strangers is the magistrate of the city.)

Abraham and Lot had traveled together for much of their earlier years until they reached the land of Canaan.  There was a quarrel between Lot’s herdsmen and Abraham’s herdsmen over pasture rights.  Abraham had deferred his right of first choice to Lot and allowed him to choose which land he wanted first.  Lot’s choice reflected his values.  He looked out over the plain of the Jordan and said that it was like the ‘garden of the LORD’ and ‘the land of Egypt.’ The ‘garden of the Lord’ meant divine fellowship, the likes of what Adam and Eve had enjoyed in the Garden.  What did the ‘land of Egypt’ mean?  Lot knew.  He had just left Egypt and knew it to be a place of prosperity and easy living.  So he chose the plains of the Jordan (Sodom) and assumed he could have both materialism and God’s blessing.

It didn’t end successfully as we’re about to see in the unfolding story.  So far, it appears to have worked out well.  He is mayor, after all.  My question is, ‘How does a man of God, one not willing to compromise his convictions, end up being elected major in a city where rampant homosexuality and crime hold the land captive?’ 

Lot’s choice of Sodom will come back to haunt him.  He will barely escape with his life in the days to come and he will lose his wife in the process.  He has already disregarded the principle that runs all the way through Scripture; choose God first and everything else will fall in line.  Lot did exactly the opposite, placing materialism first.  He was intent on finding a place to grow his material advantages while, simultaneously, enjoying the presence of God.  This was his downfall.

I wonder how it affected his heart over time?  How did the values of the city affect his children?  How much did he bring the kingdom of God to the values of the city?  Was he the salt that savored his hometown?

Grant me discernment.  The stakes are always high, even when choices appear to be small. Amen

Scared and Hard On Myself

So the LORD replied, “If I find fifty righteous ones within the city of Sodom, on their account I will spare the whole place.”  Then Abraham answered, “Now that I have ventured to speak to the Lord – though I am but dust and ashes, suppose the fifty righteous ones lack five. Will You destroy the whole city for the lack of five?” Genesis 18:26-27

I must know the nature of God for my prayers to be effective.  If I don’t petition a holy Judge, I will be arrogant.  If I don’t petition a loving and tender Father, I won’t ask for too much.

Abraham spent a long time pleading with God, searching His mind on the matter of how many righteous would be enough for God to spare the city of Sodom.  Abraham didn’t know what His answer would be so he pressed God to reveal the limits of His grace.  He was both bold, and humble, as he took his request to the absolute limit.

I have been blessed enough to be near a few great men and women of God.  One thing they had in common; they asked God for the unthinkable.  They didn’t doubt at all that He could give them what they asked.  Most were visionary, type-A personalities and faith were in their spiritual gifting.  Oh, but not all!  I also knew a soft-spoken leader who asked with confidence.  Boldness does not necessarily equal arrogance.

My childhood was spent near some who were extremely timid but called it humility.  I was also near to a few who were arrogant but called it faith.   Both were wrong and led others astray as to what it was to be Spirit-filled.  To hate oneself is not humility.  To lead boldly with no regard for the well-being of people is not wearing the kind of spiritual power Jesus modeled.

Abraham had your ear and favor.  You didn’t walk away from boldness because he knew his place.  He knew he was ‘dust and ashes’ yet loved and favored by You.  Amen

Don’t Bring Judgement Yet, Lord.

I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. [About Sodom and Gomorrah] And if not, I will know.” Abraham still stood before the Lord. Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?  Genesis 18:21,23

To be called the father of nations in whom many are blessed was an awesome thing.  The favor that came with the calling was coveted but what it would require of Abraham was not clear when the blessing was conferred.  He didn’t know that, among other things, he would become a mediator for the righteous who lived in Sodom. It is a heavy burden at times.

On the other side of the cross, we all became mediators.  Jesus, the High Priest, made us a kingdom of priests, a spiritual family who intercedes for others just as He intercedes for us in heaven.  We carry others’ needs to Jesus and He carries our needs to His Father.  Like Abraham, we cry out for the unrepentant, asking God to have mercy on them, to withhold deserved judgment.  Can God’s mind be changed?  Apparently, yes.  Scriptures tell many stories where God’s hand was about to strike, to inflict punishment because of sin and rebellion, but He ended up withholding it because of one man’s intercession.  The mediators knew their crucial role.  They understood that they stood between the sinner and God to plead their case. 

Prayers take on profound overtones when I realize that I can pray for my family, my church, and even my nation in this way.  “Lord, stay your hand of judgment.  Give us more time.  There are more than ten righteous in our land.  Purify us.  Give us boldness so that we will draw the line of truth in the sand and bring others into the kingdom.  Please don’t judge.  Not yet.”

Psalm 106 recounts an act of mediation made by Moses.  “They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt, and awesome deeds by the Red Sea. Therefore he said he would destroy them— had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him, to turn away his wrath from destroying them.” 

My prayers matter.  Your prayers matter.  Perhaps someone you love is about to enter a time of disciplinary action by God.  Consider today that we are all priests, able to mediate on their behalf.  We can be the catalyst to stay God’s hand, staving off catastrophic consequences while the call for repentance can be heard.

Help me consider the weight of my intercessory role today.  Amen

Who Is The God Others See Through Me?

Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to set them on their way. The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation?  Genesis 18:16-18

Abraham had never seen God’s widespread judgment on a group of people.  What is about to unfold in Sodom will be new to him.  If Abraham is to be the father of a great and mighty nation, he must be able to represent a God with whom he is completely familiar.

Up until this point, he has experienced a tender and gracious God.  But the judgment that is about to come will show that God’s wrath can be kindled when there is long-term sin and rebellion. Abraham has a vested interest in what happens in Sodom.  Lot, his nephew, lives there with his family.  To be a great leader of his people, Abraham will need to represent God in all of His fulness.  If He only knew one side of God, he would misrepresent Him to others.  God would be seen as disfigured. 

God has taken me on many journeys that confused me at the time.  I wondered, “What does this have to do with my life and calling?”  Time has shown that it was a necessary piece of experience to prepare me for my future.

Are you visiting a place that appears to be a wasteland?  Do you often pray, “What in the world are you trying to teach me?”  God does all things well and what appears to be insignificant now will later become invaluable.  You can trust the Shepherd.

The only way to know You well, Lord, is to walk with You into unexpected places.  Don’t let me waste what I fear is a detour.  Amen