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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lebanon County PA farm
Lebanon County Pennsylvania farm

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"The Danger Of Lingering"

"And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city" (Genesis 19:16).

Man reading newspaperDo you ever come across a news item and say, "Did I really read that right?" "You've got to be kidding me!" "This is crazy!"

But... you really did read it right.

That happened to me yesterday. In the course of reading a news story a detail jumped out and I called it to Brooksyne's attention. As it turns out she had already made the same observation. It was woven into the story as if it was no big deal and apparently to the person writing the story it wasn't.

I find it helpful to filter current events from a historical perspective and applied this to yesterday's news item trying to imagine it just ten or twenty years ago. I think it would have been a national scandal.

Periodically in this series I have observed the tendency for the slide into immorality to be incremental. By incremental I mean the sense of small steps, although the steps are turning more into downhill slides all the time.

Offensive, abnormal behavior such as sexual immorality and perversions are such examples. This doesn't happen all at once, but with repetitive exposure, what once shocked our senses and offended our ears becomes tolerated, and then acceptable.

The next step is that the once shocking, abnormal behavior even becomes preferable and the behavior that had been normal may very well be recognized as abnormal! Amazingly, this is now happening in our lifetime.

Lot choosingI believe Lot's story is instructive here.  Lot made a critical choice when he chose the more lush grazing land in the valley for his flocks (Genesis 13:10). This led him to pitch his tent near Sodom (Genesis 13:12). Even at that time the Scripture gives this indictment: "The men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord" (v.13). Yet Lot did well and in time married, had two daughters, and by Genesis 19 he had a house in Sodom.

Sodom had become his home and he had gotten used to it.  Leaving was very difficult. But God's appointed time of judgment had come and, in answer to his Uncle Abraham's fervent prayers, he and his family would be delivered. 

But it was painstakingly hard for Lot to leave. As destruction of the city loomed, consider two telling words in the daily text, "he lingered" (NASV "he hesitated"). Matthew Henry's commentary notes, "Lot lingered; he trifled. Thus many who are under convictions about their spiritual state, and the necessity of a change, defer that needful work."

Lot had grown very comfortable in Sodom. Had he grown so accustomed to the wickedness that it dulled his spiritual senses and he no longer saw sin for what it was? It would seem that one concession led to another until his long held spiritual convictions no longer mattered to him. His prosperity and prominence at the city gate had prevailed over his piety.

Lot fleeing SodomHis moral values were wretchedly twisted and later in the chapter we see this twisted condition in his wife and daughters as well. Genesis 19 is one of the saddest chapters in the Bible, showing man's pathetic condition in apostasy. Lot's wife's body remained as a pillar of salt, the lasting visible monument of rebellion toward a holy God. Then the sordid account involving his daughters followed their departure to safety.

I don't want to get comfortable in "Sodom". I don't want to linger when God directs me to leave. I don't want to cling to that which God tells me, "Let go". A great command in the New Testament states: "Flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness" (1 Timothy 6:11). What about you?

Rather than lingering like Lot, let us be among those who have "fled to take hold of the hope offered to us" (Hebrews 6:18).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, I pray that You will guard my heart so that I am not lured into reckless desires that originate from worldly thinking and godless behavior. I know, in my heart, that these worldly desires lead to ruin and destruction as they gradually lead me to abandon godly principles and holy living.  May godless trends and philosophies be evident to me as I reject the enemy's plan to gradually dull my senses to what is falsely called knowledge and the enlightenment of our age. May I always pursue righteousness through a vibrant faith in You, through Christ Jesus, my Lord and my Master.  Amen.

Matthew Henry's Commentary Note: "Lot was good, but there was not one more of the same character in the city. All the people of Sodom were very wicked and vile. Care was therefore taken for saving Lot and his family. Lot lingered; he trifled. Thus many who are under convictions about their spiritual state, and the necessity of a change, defer that needful work. The salvation of the most righteous men is of God's mercy, not by their own merit. We are saved by grace. God's power also must be acknowledged in bringing souls out of a sinful state.  If God had not been merciful to us, our lingering had been our ruin. Lot must flee for his life. He must not hanker after Sodom. Such commands as these are given to those who, through grace, are delivered out of a sinful state and condition. Return not to sin and Satan. Rest not in self and the world. Reach toward Christ and heaven, for that is escaping to the mountain, short of which we must not stop. Concerning this destruction, observe that it is a revelation of the wrath of God against sin and sinners of all ages. Let us learn from hence the evil of sin, and its hurtful nature; it leads to ruin."

Ester's Personal Note:  We direct this note from Ester to those who read or commented on her story related to her 23rd birthday: "I am blessed to have you all as my friends. I am grateful and blessed to be alive. Thank you all for the birthday wishes on my birthday. God has been great to me over the years. Twenty three years old and I am still here, not perfect, but no one is except Jesus Christ. Thanks for your prayers and support toward me. You all mean a lot to me. May you be encouraged today. - Love, Ester Weber

Today's Suggested Music and Sup
plemental Resources

"Depraved Indifference"  Video  Eric Ludy  I appreciate this man's visual sermons, very well produced with outstanding content.

"The Gospel"  Video  Eric Ludy  An interesting, gripping video presentation of the Gospel.

"I Am Not Ashamed Of The Gospel"  Video  Heritage Singers

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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"Living securely today anchored in God's solid foundation"

O Lord, be gracious unto us,.... This is a prayer of the church under the persecutions of antichrist, imploring the grace and favour of God in their miserable and distressed circumstances; desiring his gracious help, assistance, and deliverance; pleading not any merits of their own, but casting themselves upon the mercy and kindness of God: