And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume X, Number 12 December 31, 2006
In this issue:
The end of the calendar year is a good time for reflection and resolution; for remembering and pledging to do better and be better in the coming year.
It is right to evaluate where we are and where we are headed. The word of God says, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (2 Cor. 13:5).
Are you still living in sin? If so, now is the best time to put away your sin, obey Jesus in faith, and be saved from your sins. If you are not a Christian you are living in sin – you are walking in darkness (Jno. 8:12). It takes more that saying you are in fellowship with God; it takes practicing the truth that Jesus has given us (1 Jno. 1:6; Jno. 12:35; Jas. 1:22). Why are you waiting? End the darkness of sin in your life; become a Christian today! (Acts 2:37-41; 22:16)
Are you becoming a better husband or wife? If not, it is past time to begin. We must improve ourselves as husbands and wives. Each person has a responsibility to the other – before God – to honor and serve one another in marriage (Eph. 5:22-29; Col. 3:18-19; 1 Pet. 3:1-7; 1 Cor. 5:3-5). Love is shown by actions of unselfish service and sacrifice (1 Jno. 3:16-18). Husbands and wives must not only say “I love you,” but also show their love in their treatment of one another.
Are you doing the things you know will please God? Or, do you know what God’s will for your life is, but choose instead to do your own will? Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (Jas. 4:17). Are you putting Christ and His will first in your life (Matt. 6:33)? Do pure thoughts fill your mind and come out of your mouth (Matt. 12:34-37)? Is your mind to do the will of God and no longer live for the lusts of the flesh (1 Pet. 4:1-2)?
These are just a sample of the things to consider as we end 2006 and begin 2007. By the way, we must never forget that God is not defined by the ending of one year and the beginning of another; He inhabits eternity (Isa. 57:15; 2 Pet. 3:8).
For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2)
Abram was wealthy in livestock, silver and gold. His nephew Lot was also rich. So great were their possessions they eventually separated in order to sustain their flocks and avoid strife. Years later their lives intersected in a dramatic hostage rescue mission. Invading forces from the north plundered the southern region of Canaan, capturing Lot. Abram’s heroic pursuit and defeat of the enemy liberated Lot. Recorded in Genesis 13-14, these events culminate with Abram giving a tithe to Melchizedek (king of Salem and priest of God), who had blessed him.
From Abram, Lot and Melchizedek we learn powerful lessons about unwavering faith, foolish selfishness, and the grace of God.
Abram: This World is NOT my Home
Abram was a man of faith. He is the prototype for those today that live by faith (Rom. 4:11-12, 16; Gal. 3:7-9). Abram’s faith in Genesis 13-14 sets a worthy example for Christians, teaching us this world is not our home.
1. Abram the pilgrim. Although the text says that Abram “dwelt” in Canaan, it is clear that he was a sojourner in that land (Gen. 13:12). Three times in Genesis 13 it is said that Abram “went” (13:1, 3 and 18). He was a traveler. God commanded him, and he willingly obeyed: “Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you” (Gen. 13:17). Christians are “sojourners and pilgrims” who are expected to live by faith, not by sight (1 Pet. 2:11; 2 Cor. 5:7). Abram kept his eyes on the promises of God, obeyed God, and his faith was accounted to him for righteousness (Gen. 13:14-18; 15:1-6). Our faith must be like his.
2. Abram the humble. When strife broke out between their herdsmen, Abram’s brotherly affection prompted him to defer to Lot (Gen. 13:5-9). This was not unity at the expense of truth; it was unity at the expense of personal ego and pride. It takes humility to be united in Christ (Eph. 4:2-3; Rom. 15:3-7).
3. Abram the soldier. Living by faith includes fighting against the forces of evil (1 Tim. 6:12; Eph. 6:10-13). It is worth noting that when Abram learned that Lot was in danger, he rallied and armed his men, pursued and defeated the enemy (Gen. 14:12-17). Abram did not say, “Let someone else go to battle,” or, “Lot is now getting what he deserves.” Instead, he was “valiant in battle” and “turned to flight the armies of the aliens” (Heb. 11:34). Christians are soldiers of Jesus Christ, and victory is assured against sin and death through faith (2 Tim. 1:3; 4:7-8; 2 Cor. 10:3-6; 1 Jno. 5:4).
4. Abram the worshiper. Abram worshiped God when he traveled (Gen. 13:3-4, 18; 14:18-20). Ironically, many Christians view travel as a good reason not to worship God. Abram was a giver, not a taker (Gen. 14:20-24). Likewise, Christians are to be ready to give with purpose of heart, cheerfully, as God has prospered us (1 Tim. 6:18; 2 Cor. 9:6-7; 1 Cor. 16:2).
Lot: This World IS my Home
When we are introduced to Lot in Genesis 13, his eyes are set on himself instead of the promises of God. “And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere…then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan…and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain…” (Gen. 13:10-12) The course of Lot’s life well demonstrates that “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Lk. 12:15).
Lot’s choice placed him squarely in the midst of wicked men. It is true that we live in this world, but we must not be of this world (Jno. 17:14-17).
Lot was “oppressed” and his righteous soul “tormented” daily as he witnessed the filthy and vile conduct of the men of Sodom (2 Pet. 2:7-8). His shortsighted choice to “pitch his tent even as far as Sodom” weakened his godly influence and no doubt contributed to the spiritual demise of his family (Gen. 19:4-9, 14, 26, 30-38). Because he lived in Sodom he was captured by enemy kings and led away (Gen. 14:12). We cannot fail to learn this lesson: Where we choose to live, how we choose to make our living and those with whom we choose to associate will have a temporal and an eternal impact upon us (1 Cor. 15:33-34; Matt. 6:24, 33).
Melchizedek: KING of Peace, PRIEST of God
Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High, appears on the patriarchal landscape of Genesis 14 and just as abruptly recedes into its shadows. Yet, he is a shadow or figure of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, our King and the High Priest of our confession (Psa. 110:4; Heb. 3:1; 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:3, 11-28).
Jesus Christ is a priest “in the likeness of Melchizedek” (Heb. 7:15, 3). That is to say, Christ’s priesthood is like that of Melchizedek, whose priesthood, according to Hebrews 7:3,
1) Did not depend on his parentage (“without father, without mother, without genealogy”);
2) Had no predecessor or successor (“having neither beginning of days or end of life”);
3) Was unchangeable (remains a priest continually”).
Melchizedek’s greatness is seen as he blesses Abram and receives tithes from him (Heb. 7:6-7). From this event it is necessarily inferred that the priesthood of Christ is “better” than the Levitical priesthood (Heb. 7:4-19).
Like Melchizedek, Christ is simultaneously King and Priest (Heb. 7:1-2; Psa. 110:1-4; Zech. 6:12-13). Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is “able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him” (Heb. 7:25; 4:14-16).
What Will YOUR Answer Be?
Abram “dwelt in the land of Canaan,” but this world was not his home. Lot “dwelt in the cities of the plain” and by so doing, this world became his home (Gen. 13:12). Melchizedek, foreshadowing our great King and High Priest, dwelt in “righteousness” and “peace,” thus signaling a king and a kingdom that is not of this world (Heb. 7:2; Jno. 18:36).
Where is your home? Where do you pitch your tent? Are you serving God, or yourself? Walk by faith, not by sight.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Psa. 118:15-24
1. God repaired & raised up
the “tent” of David (dwelling, house, ruling monarchy): Messiah & His
kingdom, Acts 15:16-17.
I. LIVING IN TENTS, Heb. 11:9.
A. Nomadic Life an Important Symbol in Bible:
1. Wanderers, Num. 9:17-18; Jer. 35:5-10, 14, 16, 18-19; 1 Pet. 2:11.
2. Exposed to danger, Jer. 10:19-20; Psa. 18:1-3; Jer. 5:10-13; 10:17-25; He. 12:4-6; 13:5-6.
3. Promise of a homeland, Heb. 11:9-10, 13-16; Deut. 8:2-7; Ezek. 37:27 (Heb. 13:14; Rev. 21:1-3)
II. PITCHING TENTS (“to stretch out, extend, spread out”).
A. Some Pitch their Tent toward Sodom, Gen. 13:12 (1 Jno.2:15-17).
1. Material choice, Gen. 13:10.
2. Selfish choice, Gen. 13:11.
3. Shortsighted choice, Gen. 13:13; 2 Pet. 2:7-8.
B. Some Pitch their Tent away from Wickedness, Gen. 13:18, 14-17; Eph. 5:11-14; 2 Tim. 2:22; Psa. 84:10-12.
III. MAKING TENTS, Acts 18:3.
A. The Honor of Honest Labor, 1 Ths. 4:11-12; 2:9; Acts 20:34-35.
B. Beware of Covetousness, Lk. 12:15-21; Matt. 16:33-34 (Eccl. 5:18-20).
IV. PUTTING OFF OUR TENTS, 2 Pet. 1:12-14.
A. We will all Die, 2 Cor. 5:1-5 (Heb. 9:27).
-Are you ready to die?
1. What will we do while we
live in our “tent” (flesh): complain (Psa. 106:24-25) or rejoice (Psa.
A resolution is about goal-setting and making conscious choices to achieve the goal. According to personal achievement expert Jill Koenig (Author of “New Year, New Life”), many people treat a new year’s resolution like a wish – a big mistake. “A resolution is a decision,” Koenig observed in an interview on Fox News Live. “The resolution is only the first step,” she said. Koenig further noted the two reasons people do not achieve their resolutions are (1) They are not committed, and (2) They do not have a plan.
Koenig is in the business of achievement (goalguru.com). She offers “T’s for Success” to help people succeed in making resolutions. It is not surprising that the word of God teaches all of these, since God expects us to set the goal of living for Him every day. We can easily make spiritual application of Koenig’s “T’s for Success” – let us be wise enough to do so (cf. Lk. 16:8).
hink: Think through your resolution and count the cost. Read Luke 14:25-33.
hirst: Have a hunger, a burning desire to achieve your resolution. Otherwise, you will be distracted. (Read Matt.5:6)
argets: Have a destination in view; a clear vision or picture of where you are going. This will motivate you to succeed. (Read Col. 3:1-4; Heb. 11:13-16)
asks: Know exactly what you need to do for success. (Read James 1:21-27)
imeline: Take action; schedule your resolution into your daily life. (Read Luke 9:23; Ephesians 5:15-17)
eam: Get help from others. (Read 1 Ths. 5:11; Heb. 12:12-13; Gal. 6:1-2)
riumph: Celebrate small victories – they will become big ones. (Read 1 Ths. 1:2-3; 4:9-10; Phil. 4:4; 1 Jno. 5:4)Be a Christian. Be committed. Have a plan. Succeed. The Lord will help you (Phil. 4:13; 2 Tim. 4:7-8; Matt. 11:28-30; 1 Jno. 5:3-4, 12-13).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 01/01/2007
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA