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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Howard Tunnel on York Heritage Rail Trail 9/8/15
Howard Tunnel built in 1938 and still active,
used by the York Heritage Rail Trail

"Lessons From Sodom"
(Part 2)

Note: In our current series of four messages we are considering a most disturbing scene in the Bible, the destruction of Sodom. In writing to the Corinthians Paul wrote concerning the events of Old Testament history that "these things happened as examples for us" (1 Corinthians 10:6). Although Genesis 19 is not encouraging in the sense we normally use the word, it is very thought- provoking and instructive. Furthermore, a foundational verse for those of us who have a high view of Scripture is 2 Timothy 3:16 which states, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness."

We hold to the inspired, inerrant, reliable view of the Bible and firmly believe we have here in Genesis 19 a record of an actual historical event. Archaeology has confirmed that these cities existed.* However, to many in the modern world this is just a meaningless, fictitious story and very politically incorrect. Tragically, as disbelief and cultural accommodation has crept into the church, there are more and more professing "people of faith" who see this as fiction or some type of illustrative lesson rather than an historical record.

to this message on your audio player.

"Judgment Is No Joking Matter"

"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" (Genesis 19:14).

Those who know me personally are aware that I sure enjoy teasing. It's all in good fun as I try to rouse some laughter that gets people's minds off the troubles that are far too prevalent. The Bible says there is "a time to laugh" (Ecclesiastes 3:4) and I am thankful that God placed the emotional response of laughter in our human disposition.

Stink bug Sometimes people don't know how to take my personality and more than a few times my teasing and joking has gotten me in some minor trouble, as some can't always discern when I am teasing or when I'm being serious. Or it can backfire in another way. Ester periodically watches three little children who come to our house. One time I teased the kids about putting stinkbugs on their pizza and they have never forgotten that. Now whenever they see me they call me "stinkbug man"!

But there are issues in life that are not joking matters. All over the world Christians regularly proclaim their belief in the judgment by reciting the Apostle's Creed, "He shall come to judge the living and the dead" or they profess this belief in a doctrinal statement. Today there are those faithful ministries that warn of impending judgment, but this is a subject many just don't want to hear. Indeed for many, judgment is just a joking matter. 

The response of Lot's sons-in-law typifies this attitude.  Lot had been told to warn anyone who belonged to him to leave the city, for it would be destroyed. "Then the two men said to Lot, “Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place; for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the Lord that the Lord has sent us to destroy it” (Genesis 19:12,13).

This is an act of grace on God's part. Lot urged these young men, "Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!" They were were granted the opportunity to escape judgment due to their association with Lot but...

Ponder with me a moment regarding their response. They "thought he was joking". Other versions use words like, jesting, mocking, kidding, And yet Biblical history records the awful judgment that came upon Sodom and Gomorrah.  Many today, now some 4,000 years later, still laugh and scoff at the notion of a future judgment.

Whether God's judgment is that of the whole earth, specific nations, or the individual, it's just a joking matter to many people. The good life, along with years of secularism and Biblical illiteracy, has dulled many to this most certain future event. There are many who regularly verbally profess that, "He shall come to judge the living and the dead" (Apostle's Creed) or hold to a doctrinal statement such as "There will be a final judgment in which the wicked dead will be raised and judged according to their works. Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, together with the devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, will be consigned to the everlasting punishment in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." but give little thought to the meaning or impact of these solemn words.

Even so God has made Himself very clear in His Word: "Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). To the scoffers of his day Peter warned, "But they will have to give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead" (1 Peter 4:5). 

I contend that among my main responsibilities in this life is to personally prepare for this judgment and to warn others. And God has also been very clear regarding how we are to prepare.  Fundamentally He wants our trust and obedience.

Many consider judgment a joking matter, but let us who truly believe in the Lord continue to stand up for the truth and warn those around us that judgment is coming.  Lot's sons-in-law were urged to "hurry and get out of this place". The New Testament parallel is a plea that, "Now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer:
Father, thank You for loving us enough to warn repeatedly of impending judgment and for showing us the right path of life. Help us to realize this is no joking matter. Keep us alert, listening, faithful in obedience and growing in the process.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.

Here's a common prayer that expresses faith in God's plan of salvation. It's often called "the sinner's prayer." Believing what this prayer expresses is the main component of being prepared for the coming judgment. I urge you to pray this prayer from your heart today. "Lord Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner. I believe that You came to this earth and died on the cross as a substitute for me.  I place my faith in You and ask You to forgive me of my sins.  I receive You into my life and choose this day to follow and serve You. Thank You for what You have done for me and for hearing my prayer.

More scenes from our bike ride Monday on the York Heritage Rail Trail

Hanover Junction Rail Station on York Heritage Rail Trail 9/8/15
Hanover Junction has some interesting history. It now houses a small museum of Civil War and railroad history,

Hanover Junction Rail split on York Heritage Rail Trail 9/8/15
The Hanover Junction station looking toward the north
In 1863 President Lincoln traveled by rail on the left track to give his address in Gettysburg. In 1865 his funeral train along with that of his son who died two years earlier stayed on the right track through York to Harrisburg on the way to their graves in Illinois.

Hanover Junction sculpture on York Heritage Rail Trail 9/8/15
These sculptures near the Hanover Junction train station are made of old bicycle frames!

Party caboose on York Heritage Rail Trail 9/8/15
This bright red caboose near New Freedom is apparently available for parties.

Engine for the "Steam Into History" train on York Heritage Rail Trail 9/8/15
There is an interesting excursion train in New Freedom called "Steam Into History"  (This photo is from their website since the train was not running Monday and they keep the engine indoors.)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Preacher Tell Me Like It Is"  Video  Greater Vision

"Preach the Word"  Video   Gold City

York Heritage Rail Trail

* "The Discovery of the Sin Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah"

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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