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A Praying Faith

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
September 18, 2022 1:00 am

A Praying Faith

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer

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September 18, 2022 1:00 am

Christians are called to have an impact on the world. When Abraham’s neighboring cities faced fire and brimstone, he interceded for them. In this message, we contemplate lessons on prayer for others, for our cities, and for our families. Despite Abraham’s mediation, the cities were destroyed. Did his prayer make a difference? 

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The journey of Abraham has taken him to the great trees of memory were he encounters three mysterious visitors on a day of high drama Abraham and Sarah find themselves in the presence of God and learn about the sun, they will soon have and about judgment on the city of Sodom. Stay with us from Chicago. This is The Moody Church. Our weekly service of worship and teaching with pastor Erwin Blitzer today.

Dr. Luther continues his series on strength for the journey taken your next steps with God study in the life of Abraham. Later in our broadcast will watch Abraham develop a praying faith. The Moody choir comes now to open our service. Thank you so much choir for leading us in our call to worship today and thanks also to our intern.

One of our interns Rochelle land, who led the choir this morning as they invited us to bless the name of the Lord and we hope that you are here today to do just that.

When you take your hymnals please and turn to 526.

The solid rock will be singing that in a moment. 526 are scripture reading today is by Luke Angus Luke is a senior at Moody Bible Institute in one of our interns here with the youth ministry and he'll be leading us in the reading of God's word. Also, be prepared for surely one of our most beautiful hands 631 as we will be singing the Lord's prayer we have prepared at time of worship of instruction and of prayer asking and inviting God to speak to us powerfully today. Jesus told the story a member about two men, one who built his house upon the sand and the other who built his house upon the rock. They looked identical but when the judgment came when the floods came the house that was built upon the rock stood and the other one collapsed, it was that imagery that gave rise to William Mo to wrote this him on Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. Let's affirm that if we will please as we bow together in prayer and then we stand to sing in our father, we thank you today that in Jesus we have found something solid in a day when everything that is been nailed down is being torn up.

We thank you that he is dependable that his promises are sure and that our lives are built upon him enable us to sing this is an affirmation of our faith, but most of all for the glory of your name we pray. Amen. And please join with me in the bold print. The Lord looks down from heaven he sees all the children of man from where he sits enthroned.

He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth.

He who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds. The king is not saved by his great army, a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The warhorse is a false hope for salvation and by its great might it cannot rescue behold the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord. He is our help and our shield for our heart is glad in him because we trust in his holy name.

Let your steadfast love the Lord, be upon us even as we hope in you like to return to number 631 as we sing the Lord's prayer together. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love sing the Lord's prayer from our hearts the American spiritual has really helped us a great deal to understand life as you see the words here show me the way it will sound like were little desperate that his life is show me the way you show me the way had been lost, tumbled, tossed, show me the way. By the time we get to the end of the piece. Now I have heard your guiding word I hear you speak.

Go Lord shine your light on my soul and let your word make me whole and you will will will will will will will will will and in so let me begin by asking you a question how would you like to have a conversation with God.

A man years ago. The book was written entitled conversations with God in the introduction, the author said that he took this book and it was written actually by automatic writing, being came along and moved his hand and that's how the book came about that is known in occultism as automatic writing. That's why the book says many foolish things that only a human being and the devil would agree with such as quote God says I think whatever you think. Have you come across a God who thinks whatever you think, and that your thoughts are his thoughts. You come across the wrong one.

God says, my thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways, that's a different God. But Abraham had a conversation with God. Real God. And what a conversation it was that's recorded in the 18th chapter the 18th chapter of the book of Genesis where Abraham has this encounter with the divine being, and with your Bibles open. Let me tell you the story then read part of the account as it is given to us in Scripture. Here's Abraham he's sitting at the door of his tent.

It's hot, it's time for a siesta and three men come to him.

It almost appears as if Abraham realized that these were not three ordinary Bedouins, though perhaps they were dressed that way. Abraham not only bows before them and calls one of them, Lord, but begins that even though he's 100 years old to act very quickly. It says in verse six and Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said quick three seal is a fine flour needed and make cakes for seven and Abraham ran into the herd and took a calf tender and good and gave it to a man who prepared it quickly is a man in a hurry so the three men gather under a tree and he feeds them the very best that he possibly can.

Who are these three men well. We learned very clearly that one is Jesus Christ. Now you been with us in this series and I believe that this is the eighth message in the series. You know that we've encountered this before in the Old Testament Jesus Christ about whom it is written in his goings forth have been from of old and from everlasting was already appearing at times in the Old Testament. For purposes of communication oftentimes referred to as the angel of the Lord. Here he is simply referred to as the Lord as we shall see in a moment.

One is Jesus Christ and the other two are angels back in the book of Hebrews. It says that you should be very very careful very anxious to entertain strangers because by doing that. Some have entertained angels unawares. Probably a reference to this particular account. So what they're eating together and go one of them. That is the Lord I'm sure is speaking and says where is Sarah your wife verse nine.

Wait a moment. Now how does he know that her name is Sarah and Abraham answers and says she's in the tent and the Lord says where in verse 10. Now I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son and Sarah was listening up the tent door behind him.

Now Abraham and Sarah were old and advanced in years, the way of women had ceased to be with Sarah so Sarah laughed to herself as she was told in the previous chapter that she was going to bear a son, but Sarah does not believe it. Abraham seems to believe, but she does not, and you'll notice that even though she's laughing to herself. She is overheard by the angel of the Lord by Jesus actually and in verse 13 the Lord said to Abraham. Why did Sarah laugh and say, shall I indeed bear a child.

Now that I am to old is anything too hard for the Lord. Is it possible for God to take a man who's 100 and a woman who is 90, and to give them a son is that to heart for God, sometimes in our praying we say no. Lord, I'm just praying about something that's very little.

I smile when we say that because to God.

Everything is little.

Hurricanes are little earthquakes are little to God. Everything is a little weird dealing with omnipotent so the angel written assurances. Why are you laughing sir and she she denies that self protection first thing we do and where embarrassed as to why what she does. She says no she says I didn't lapses yes you did see. She laughed to herself in the tent. She didn't laugh loud enough for them to hear out there but God knew that she was laughing so after the meal is over. Abraham then begins to go his way, and of the three men began to go to Sodom and to have them move off to angels do and Abraham now is confronted and he stands in the presence of the Lord and we are allowed to enter into a divine soliloquy, the Lord of glory is talking to himself and he asks this question. He says in verse 17. Shall I hide from Abraham what I'm about to do. Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him. Bribe chosen him that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice could I just pause and say that the primary responsibility for spiritual instruction in the home is the father whether the father is absent, or whether he is present, God holds them accountable for the spiritual instruction that he gives to his children, and then the angel says are actually the angel of the Lord.

If we may call him that it is the second person of the Trinity is saying I'm going down to take a look to see where how bad the Sodom really is once again you have to read this with some theological glasses. It's not that Jesus is on a reconnaissance mission trying to find out the state of Sodom and Gomorrah you have to put this in the same category as God asking Adam in the garden.

Where are you not that God doesn't know but God. Here Jesus is being represented as a human being places I'm going to go down and check out how bad Sodom has become.

And that makes it. Abraham realized that judgment is coming to Sodom and that's why we come now to this great period of intercession in Abraham's life we have to look at it more carefully. Verse 22.

So the man turned from there and went toward Sodom. But Abraham stood still before the Lord, and he drew near and said will you indeed to sweep away the righteous with the wicked suppose there are 50 righteous within the city, will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the 50 righteous who are in it. Far be it from you to do such a thing to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fair as the wicked far be that from you shall not judge of all the earth to do what is just and the Lord said if I find it Sodom 50 righteous in the city. I will spare the whole place for their say.

From here on out.

I'd love to see a video of this from here on out. I think Abraham's needs are quite he now realizes that he is in the presence of God who can make the decision whether Sodom will be destroyed or not and in his mind what he's thinking is locked lives there. My nephew whom I rescued and after I rescued and he went back to Sodom.

Amazing what it takes to change some heart and so what he's saying is Lord I'm thinking of my nephew Lot and his wife and his daughters.

Lord, I'm not sure whether or not there are 50 in the city.

He began rather high.

He wanted God to agree on this and he appeals to the justice of God, not the mercy of God, as we sometimes do, and that's fine. But here, he appeals to the justice of God, and he says God you will not sweep away the wicked and the righteous together will you if there are 50 righteous in the city and on since it's a promise I won't.

Now he begins to tremble and he begins to intercede and he says, Lord, what about 4545 if they can get God to agree with. 45 maybe I can agree get him to agree with less than that. So he goes to 45 will you do it.

If there are 45 God says I won't do it if there 45. Abraham is not bargaining with God when you bargained with God you have something to give in exchange or haggling over a price he has nothing to haggle with. He brings nothing to the table except his concern locked in God's righteousness. That's all that he has any please and he says God, he says, what if there are 40 and from now on. I believe that in Abraham's mind. He is thinking that every dance in this prayer that I make might be my last God my white off the face of the earth because you'll notice how he begins to form his prayer before God. I'm going to begin here in verse 29. Again he spoke to him and suppose 40 are found there. He said for the sake of 40. I will not do it. Then he said, although let the Lord not be angry, and I will speak. Suppose 30 are found there, he answered, I will not do that. I find 30 there.

Abraham is speaking behold I've undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose 20 are found there. He said for the sake of 20 I will not destroy that is at all Lord, let not the Lord be angry and I will speak again this once he believes that the Lord may be exasperated with them. Please don't be angry.

One more time. Suppose Tanner found there.

He answered and said, for the sake of 10, I will not destroy it. The Lord went his way and when he had finished speaking to Abraham and Abraham returned to his place. While what you think. Abraham told Sarah that night in the tent.

I can't prove it but I think he said Sarah I just talked God out of destroying Sodom and Gomorrah and I can imagine Sarah saying little a huge his glow in the dark. You and God have got this thing going.

This is wonderful because think about who was inside and I can imagine that Abraham was maybe thinking this way there's Lot and his wife, his two daughters.

That's for their about to be married to two young men that six if the parents of the two young men are believers.

That's another for that next 10 he goes home believing that Sodom and Gomorrah will not destroy he got God down to I can imagine the shock that he had the next morning. Verse 27 chapter 19 now and Abraham went out early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord, and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the Valley and he looked, and behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of my he got either a goddess deceived me, or else be. I miscalculated the number of the righteous in the city.

There weren't 10 and is true. There weren't 10 God could have destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah including a lot without breaking faith with Abraham without breaking his promise because there were not 10 righteous in the city so Abraham begins to think to himself I didn't go low enough if I said to or for maybe the city would not destroy God remembered Abraham. It says so it was that the Lord when he destroyed the cities of the valley verse 29 God remembered Abraham and sandlot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which lot had lived the rest of the chapter.

Chapter 19 talks about how God rescued Lot and his wife and his two daughters. I'm going to leave the account right there.

As we look at tree transforming lessons that should enable us to look at life differently and look at prayer differently as we look at this remarkable story. First of all let me remind you that the closer our friendship with God, the more freely he shows his intentions with us. The closer our friendship with God, the more freely God shows us his intent.

Sometimes we hurry over accounts like this far to quickly don't.

Here is Jesus coming with two angels to eat at the table of Abraham sitting under a tree that is awesome that the divine is sovereign, one would come from heaven and meet a Bedouin on his own terms blows you away and the Bible says that Abraham was a friend of God. That particular expression applies in Scripture, only to him that it is said three times.

Abraham is a friend of God. You say will if I were a friend of God.

God would disclose to me what his intention was he would help me to pray you're right. You're completely right.

The more intimate we are with God. The more intimate our friendship. The more God discloses to us and he enables us to pray differently because we begin to discern his mind and his art in the history of evangelicalism today and in our churches, including hours. There are hundreds of people whom I suspect, whom I suspect not pray regularly and they say to themselves. The reason I don't is because I've been burned too many times I've come to God and I've asked him to heal people whom he hasn't healed.

I've asked him to bring my wayward son or daughter back into the faith and he hasn't done it.

I've asked him for an and due to the injustice that is being done against me, and it continues on abated. I have stopped praying because I've stopped believing and it doesn't do any good and so I'm glad that God is therefore great emergencies when I go for surgery all call for help and for prayer but for the normal things of life. I will not bother him because nothing changes. When I pray I think of a woman who said these exact words when they pray for their pastor who is dying of cancer and thousands of people prayed and they had all night prayer meeting. She said if God didn't heal them.

After all of that prayer never going to bother him with another request again.

What's gone wrong what's gone wrong is that we forget that intercession is the second purpose of prayer, not the first.

The first purpose of prayer is fellowship and intimacy with God and by the way, Jesus said, I no longer call you servants I've called you friends as a servant doesn't know what his master's doing, but I have called you friends, because everything that the father has shown me. I've withheld nothing I've shared with you all of my secrets and that makes us friend so we are all friends and the purpose of prayer is really to develop that friendship in such a way that we are so satisfied with friendship with God that even if he doesn't give us what we think he should we do not give up on prayer because prayer is first and foremost fellowship with the Almighty. What an amazing example of Jesus and the two angels sitting under a tree eating with Abraham and today Jesus says to us, behold, I stand at the door knock. If anyone will hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him and I will eat with him, and he with me, you will become disappointed with prayer very quickly. If you think it's first purposes.

Intercession the first purpose of prayer is for us to come before the Lord in yielded nests in faith and simply learn to enjoy fellowship with God in such a way that whether he gives what we ask for, or whether he doesn't. It does not shake us it only deepens us in our desire to know him better. You live like that and you'll be a permit is now the second purpose of prayer is no longer the first purpose something to preach a message entitled the idolatry of second the idolatry of second see the gifts that God gives us those of the second thanks and when they take first place in our lives when God doesn't give them to us.

We cite why bother. Abraham walked with God and so can we. God's waiting for you to give up all of your prayer lists are not wrong to have but give up all of your requests. Learn to spend time and quietness in meditation in submission listening to his voice through his word. That's where it begins and then what happened is God says that Sean disclosed Abraham Byington you are closely with God and God lay on your heart. Certain things he wants to accomplish, and you begin to pray about them and they come to pass.

I always say that Abraham and God had this thing going. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all of us could say we in God we got this thing going. This friendship so that he can disclose to us where he's at, rather than us barging into his presence.

God look at this request this of this need. Now the second purpose of prayer, not the first is a second lesson and that is that God may choose to deny our requests.

God may choose to deny our request and yet give us what we really want when God says no to a request. He either either the answer is denied. It is perhaps delayed and sometimes it is disguised as it is here.

When Abraham was praying and saying, oh God, please don't destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. If there are some righteous in the city. There is no doubt that is great concern was for his nephew Lot and so what he was thinking is in order for Locke to be spared to God has to spare the city in which he lived. It never dawned on Abraham that maybe God could have a different way of answering his prayer. Namely getting a lot out of Sodom and Gomorrah and then destroying the city that never crossed Abraham's mind.

So Abraham gets ends up getting what he wants, namely that Locke would be spared and his wife and his family.

He got back that he got it in and in higher lead different way than the way in which he had prayed. That's the way it sometimes is. We pray for one thing, and we think we know how God is going to do it. Have you ever noticed how often were wrong when we think we know how God is going to do something God seldom does at the way in which I think he's going to do it. He so creative he's always got something else that he does instead but sometimes it is an answer to our prayer that is disguised good example is David at the end of his life. David says the Lord. I'd love to build a house for you. I want to build the temple I got the time I got the money I got the organization. I'm getting the materials ready let me build you a house. God's is David the answers no, but I'm going to build you a house wonderful gotchas. I want you to build me one time to build you a house. In fact, I'm going to give you a house, namely posterity that will go on and on, will be part of the divine plan and the divine stream of history, God says I'm going to do that for you. Furthermore, he says I'm going to give you the opportunity to gather the materials and give some instruction to your young son Solomon because Solomon is going to build the temple. So David, even though your motives were right you wanted to build it for my glory, so that I would have a place where people could worship. I want you to know that the desire of your heart. David is going to be fulfilled. The temple's going to be built not by you but by Solomon. It will come to pass all answer your prayer but not in the way in which you think that it's going to be in.

Sometimes God gives us. Therefore, substitutes substitutes, and when he does it. You know is exactly what he wants. So the second lesson is that God may choose to deny our request and still give us the desires of our heart. Third, the impact of the righteous is greater than their numbers suggest the impact of the righteous is greater than their numbers would suggest. After all, if there had been 10 righteous in Sodom and Gomorrah, God would not of destroyed.

Now you must understand that this whole world is under the judgment and condemnation of God and the only reason why God with hose judgment is because this whole world is still populated in various places with his people, and because the world is populated with the people of God. God therefore restrains judgment and he blesses nations because of the believers that are in those. I don't know how to say this without the possibility being misunderstood want you to know that the world has no idea of the debt that they old believer. We are seen as obnoxious and sometimes we are unfortunately we are seen as those who impede progress.

We are painted by the media and various hues of people who want to impose our values. We are often misrepresented. But Jesus said he and he alone that's what the Greek text says he and he alone are the light of the world, even a candle in a cave can do something he and he alone are the salt of the earth preserving society from total decay. What would happen if all the believers would be taken out will then the final judgment of God would fall as it will during the great tribulation because as long as believers are here. They are salt and they are light there helping preserve the world from judgment. All I know what you're saying you're saying but weren't there 10 righteous in New Orleans. Well, I think there probably were. I'm saying that with a smile on my face because I'm sure that there were hundreds of righteous in New Orleans.

Many fine churches there and told you see, there would've been nothing wrong with God to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah with lot and it by the way.

In fact, considering the way in which lot ended up we can look back and say that, perhaps, that would've been part of God's plan would been nothing wrong with that God chose not to do it that way. Abraham prayed for Lot safety.

God gave lot safety is not wrong in this life for judgment to fall on the wicked as well as the righteous.

In fact, they die in catastrophes together all the time. But what would be wrong is if in the final judgment. There were not made a separation so that at last, in the final judgment when eternal destiny is at stake. Then, of course, God makes a very, very clear distinction between those who are considered righteous and those who are counted as unrighteous but in this life, the wicked and the righteous often die together. There's so much more that could be said about natural disasters and even the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which by the way is the subject of the next message in this series. Today I want to simply end by reminding you that in Jesus Christ we can draw near to the holy of holies and we can intercede for others.

We can intercede for cities we can intercede for families and by the way, even those of you who are married to un-save spouses. Did you know that the Bible says that the woman who's a Christian who is married to an unsaved man actually sanctifies him by her present, the whirling doesn't believe it but that's what the Scripture says, because it is his people that are good influence on others but also to remind ourselves that the final decision regarding judgment is in the hands of Jesus. It is Jesus the Lord God, Christ, who goes down to see Sodom and Gomorrah who evaluates it and the next day you have all of the sulfur in what had you falling from heaven on the city and destroying it. Ultimately, Jesus is the judge of all the earth is that I am he who was dead in them alive and, behold, I am alive forever more.

And I have the keys of death and of Hades. I want you to visualize everyone at death going through into a castle and the only way out of the castle is either the way of life to heaven or the way of darkness and hell, and it's Jesus, whom you must encounter any makes the decision where you will spend eternity. He made the decision for Sodom and Gomorrah and he makes the decision for us.

But if you trust him. You're exempt from the final judgment up to tell that story about forest fire, actually a prairie fire and as it was a blazing along as it did during the time when there was so much prairie here in the United States and Canada. There was one farmer who realized that the only way he could be spared. Ultimately, as if he lit his own fire and then he burned one patch of ground after another after another after another so that when the real big fire came he had to stand for the fire already was. And of course he would not be consumed because the fired already been there when Jesus died on the cross. He took her fire.

He took our condemnation. He took the wrath of God and he says if you trust me, you'll be exempt will be standing with the judgment already occurred. Abraham, in the presence of Sodom. We in the presence of Chicago standing before the Lord, the God of judgment. Let's pray our father, we do not pretend that we understand all the nuances of this wonderful account, but we thank you today Lord, that grace and mercy is a part of your nature. Thank you that you remembered Abraham by rescuing a lot.

Thank you. Today father that we can intercede, but first of all, we must be your friends.

First of all we need to discern your mind. Get to know you and see that the primary purpose of prayer is fellowship under the tree and not interceding on behalf of the city and we pray today that is your word says if you abide in me and my word abides in you, then you can ask what you will and it will be done as God talk to you today. We just have a moment of silence as you know, talk to God our father we ask today. In Jesus name that you will help us to be the people that we should be in the midst of a country that is turning its back on you. Help us to know what it means to be salt and light to be ministers of the gospel of Christ to stand for righteousness, and to believe that in grace, you are there to help us lead us.

We ask and they many people trust Christ as Savior coming to him, knowing that they are standing where judgment has already come in Jesus name, amen, amen. Let's sing a few stanzas of him. 344, 344.

What a wonderful Savior. Rather, Grace greater than our sin 304 marvelous grace of our loving Lord, 344.

Could we stand.

Please as we sing together on today's church. Our pastor looks or spoke about appraising faith. Eight and a 10 part series on strength of the journey study the life of Abraham next week to recount the famous story of fire and brimstone in the judgment of Sodom. Our focus will turn to Abraham's nephew Lot, who exhibits a worldly thing are series on Abraham can be yours for a gift of any amount of The Moody Church. Our calling 1-800-215-5001. Let us know you'd like to support Moody Church's ministry. Our think you will come as a CD album with all 10 messages on strength for the journey. Call 1-800-215-5001 or you can write to us at Moody Church media 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 online go to Moody that's join us next time for another Moody Church. Our with pastor Erwin lutes are in the congregation of historic Moody Church in Chicago. This broadcast is a ministry of The Moody Church

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