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A Generous Faith Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
May 11, 2022 1:00 am

A Generous Faith Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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May 11, 2022 1:00 am

In our heart of hearts, we have a choice of allegiances: receive God’s blessing or manipulate to our own ends. Lot chose to ally with the King of Sodom. Abraham paid homage to the King of Salem, priest of the God Most High. In this message, we perform a heart check on what possesses us at our points of decision. Our choices expose what we really want.   This month’s special offer is available for a donation of any amount. Get yours at or call us at 1-888-217-9337.

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Lot chose to ally with the king of Sodom to his eventual ruin.

Abraham paid homage to the king of Salem, Melchizedek, priest of God Most High. From that choice has flowed blessing to the entire world. Today, what will your choice be? From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Our series is Strength for the Journey. Pastor Lutzer, in our personal journeys, we all face significant choices in life, don't we? And you know, Dave, what's really scary is this, that even a decision that is small, it may appear small to us, if it's a wrong decision, it can put us on the wrong road and one bad decision can lead to another.

That's why it's so critical for us to learn from the life of Abraham and Lot most assuredly, but also to learn from history, what bad decisions can do. Perhaps you've been listening to the ministry of Running to Win, you've heard various sermons from this series entitled Strength for the Journey, but maybe you've missed some. Would you like to have them in permanent form so that you can listen to them again and again and make sure that you are listening to them in sequence? Well, we're making this series available to you. Here's what you do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the series of messages, Strength for the Journey. And again, I want to thank you in advance for helping us financially as the ministry of Running to Win continues to expand.

Thank you so much for being a part of all that we are doing to get the gospel to thousands upon thousands. Notice that Abraham paid him a tenth of all. He paid tithes. Some people think that tithing came about as the result of the Mosaic law, but here, hundreds of years before Moses, you have Abraham paying tithes, Jacob tithed.

It was a principle that God obviously revealed very early. So here you have this story of Abraham's generosity in the presence of this mysterious man, Melchizedek, king and priest, prefiguring Jesus. Now we have a second king that enters into the picture. You'll notice it says in verse 21, and the king of Sodom said to Abraham, give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself. In other words, you've recovered the spoil. You can keep the spoil that you recovered, but of course, you know, return the persons. And a lot, of course, would be among that group that had been taken captive and that Abraham was able to return.

Now think about that for a moment. That was a reasonable deal. Abraham could say that the spoils that I received from this incursion into the territory of these four kings is legitimate payment for my risk. I took a risk and the spoils therefore should be mine. Obviously the king of Sodom would not get anything if I hadn't gone.

So yeah, I'll keep it. Notice though what Abraham says. Verse 22, but Abraham said to the king of Sodom, I have lifted up my hand to the Lord God, the most high possessor of heaven and earth using the same language of the blessing given to him by Melchizedek, that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, I have made Abraham rich. Some of the young men who are here, what they ate and what they want to take, that's their business.

But as for me, we would translate it. I will not take one red cent. Lest the king of Sodom say, well, yes, Abraham is rich, but I do just want you to know I contributed to that riches. He has some of our goods.

He had it coming to him, but we decided to be generous and to give him whatever it is that he captured. Abraham says, I don't want to hear one word along that line because if the king of Sodom were to speak that way, I'd be robbing God of his glory. Is not the God that I serve the possessor of heaven and earth?

Didn't he bring everything into existence? Does it not say in the Old Testament and Abraham wouldn't have known this, but we do that all the gold is mine. The silver is mine. The cattle on a thousand hills is mine, says the Lord. Even that which people grab for themselves belongs to God, the possessor of heaven and earth. And Abraham says, I want to make a clear distinction here.

I will receive God's blessing, but I am refusing the manipulation and the deals of the world so that God gets all the glory. I woke up this morning quite early, quarter to five, actually. And before I got out of bed, I was praying and saying, Lord, you know, I'd really like to find an illustration to illustrate this. And none came to mind.

I searched around, couldn't find it. And then God did something very special. This morning, as I was getting ready for the baptism, I have a friend of mine who's a prayer partner who prays for me all the time, who will receive in heaven the reward of any good thing that I've ever done. And he was helping me get into my garb that I need for baptism. And he told me he was just on a weekend journey that was very, very profitable from the standpoint of his business. And he wanted to do something, he told me.

Now, he's volunteering all this. He doesn't have a clue what this sermon is about. He wanted to do something that would violate a principle he had always held to in terms of relationship with unbelievers. Now, of course, we have to do business with all kinds of people in the world, most assuredly, but it had to do with a partnership. And he decided to go along this way at first thinking that, you know, it'll work and the potential here is awesome, until he was rebuked in his spirit and last night took a walk and decided that the answer was no and God confirmed it by having this man back out of the deal by leaving a voicemail message on his phone. You see the temptation that we get to when we want to have opportunity and when we want to make a deal?

Nothing wrong with deals, but when you're in partnerships with those who do not know the Savior, they might say it is because of you that, because of me, that you today have been blessed. I know that that's complicated and there may be some exceptions and some unanswered questions, but the main thing I want to leave with you today is this. Don't ever, don't ever make a decision that will rob God of his glory.

It's better to be blessed by God, most high possessor of heaven and earth, than to manipulate a deal with the kings of Sodom. Three very important lessons grow out of this. First of all, the lesson is we always face a choice between two kings.

We always face a choice between two kings. It's either King Jesus or it's ourselves and the world, but all of our choices boil down to that. One more time I'm going to look at this man Melchizedek. Who was he anyway? Comes out of nowhere, no genealogy, superior to Abraham, king, priest of the most high God.

Who was he anyway? Many Bible scholars feel, and I've come to this conclusion, though I cannot prove it absolutely, that Melchizedek was Jesus. Melchizedek was Jesus. In the Old Testament, what you find is from time to time, God revealed himself. Jesus became flesh, and sometimes he became an angel for a very specific reason. And then after his work was done, he would disappear. And then later on, of course, he came in Bethlehem to permanently accept humanity so that he could be our brother and our savior.

This is called by theologians pre-incarnate manifestation. That is prior to Bethlehem when God became flesh manifestations of God. And here Abraham doesn't know it. He doesn't understand the Trinity like we do. But I believe that he's in the presence of deity. And isn't it interesting that Melchizedek gave him bread and wine, which later, of course, would be symbolic of the blood and body of Jesus.

He's in the presence of Christ. And that's where we stand today. Always a choice between two kings. King Jesus and all of the options and the kings of this world. You young people, you stand today between two kings. Tomorrow when you go to school, it's going to be either King Jesus or other kings that are going to be thrown in your direction.

And the temptations of the world are going to be there. And you have to choose. You businessmen, you have to always choose between King Jesus and some other king, some other king of Sodom who offers you a deal for the purpose of opportunity.

And there you stand making your choice. Every choice, almost every choice is King Jesus or someone else. Many of you know the story of George Beverly Shea. He has been for many years the singer for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Some of us have had the privilege of meeting him. He has sung to millions and millions of people. And you know about that story, don't you, that he loves to tell because it's his personal testimony of how he had been offered a job because of his wonderful baritone voice. He'd been offered a job by a radio company back in the 30s and all that they dangled before him is fame and fortune if he were to sign up with them.

And his mother put a poem on the piano so that when he sat down he'd see the poem and you know what the poem was and he wrote the music to the song that we often sing. I'd rather have Jesus than silver and gold. I'd rather be his than have riches untold. I'd rather be his than houses or land. I'd rather be led by his nail pierced hand than to be the king of a vast domain and be held in sin's dread sway. I'd rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today. We all stand in the presence of Jesus making our choice. First lesson. Second, our choice is determined by our hearts. Your choice will be determined by your heart.

Case in point, Lot. Here's Lot who chose the best pasture land. He pitches his tent toward Sodom. Now he's living in Sodom. He's carried off and then he's brought back by his uncle Abraham. You'd think to himself he would say you know this is a real bad deal living in Sodom and it's going to get worse by the way if you know how the story ended. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to move out of Sodom and begin to follow the Lord. I'm going to begin to have an altar in my life just like my uncle Abraham. Is that what Lot does?

No. Lot's heart was in Sodom so his body had to follow because your body will go where your heart wants to go. It's basically a matter of what you love. That's why the Bible says love not the world neither the things that are in the world for all that is in the world the lust of the flesh the lust of the eyes and the pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world and the world passes away and all of its lusts but he who does the will of God abides forever and then notice this if you love the world the love of the Father is not in you.

It's always a choice as to what you love that will determine your decisions no question about it. Now I don't mean that simply if you love God that that means you're always going to be kept from sin there is a need sometime for rules. You remember that story in Homer's Odyssey where Ulysses knows that he is going to be so tempted by the siren songs as the boat goes along and he knows that many captains have actually turned away and have hit the rocks because they could not overcome the temptation and he asks that all of his sailors have wax put in their ears and then he himself is tied to the mast and he told his men no matter how much I struggle no matter what happens no matter what I tell you no matter what promises I make do not unbind me until we are past the siren songs.

Yes there is the need for rules and for accountability and binding ourselves to the mast but the end of the day it is what is in our hearts that will determine what our decision is. Abraham loves God he turns to the possessor of heaven and earth and says no to the king of Sodom. Lot loves Sodom he turns away from God and says yes to Sodom which means burning not knowing that all that he has and all that he accomplishes will someday soon be burned up. Final lesson and that is that our hearts our hearts need to be changed by God our hearts need to be changed by God. You see we can't wake up in the morning and say to ourselves you know what I'm gonna do today I've just made a choice.

Today I'm going to love God and love righteousness and hate iniquity that's my choice today. You can't change your heart by saying that. In the immortal words of Woody Allen the heart wants what it wants. You can't change your heart can a leopard change his spots the Bible says. No a leopard cannot change its spots can you clean your heart can you change your heart can you you steal wool and scrub it and make it clean no you can't do that but God says a new heart I give you and with that new heart comes new loves until we may find ourselves in sin but if we do we hate what we are doing because fundamentally we do love God and the first commandment is thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart with all thy soul and with all thy mind and when we love God like that sin loses its attractiveness we no longer love it because we love God but God births that in us.

You can't change people you can't even change them by putting pressure on them. About 15 years ago a young man wandered into my office that I had known from a previous church and he was really far from God he was doing his own thing and saying no to his parents and I knew his parents and I put a lot of pressure on him I said you ought to get on your knees right here and repent. Well when I told him that he was a little sheepish but thought well my goodness if Pastor Luther thinks I should do it you know I want to get out of here so I guess I will so I got down on my knees with him and he quote repented never changed a bit. There is a form of saying sorry and even a form of repentance that does not bring about the change of heart that Jesus called the new birth which gives you new loves. This past week in a certain context that I will not take time to tell you about I put my hand in a young man I'd never met him before but I simply said to him have you accepted Christ as your Savior and he said oh yeah I do it every day you've met that kind haven't you they do it every day if you do it every day you don't understand what you're doing you may confess your sins every day but once you've made that transfer of trust to Christ and you become God's children you begin to live for him every day but you don't receive him every day but the real issue is this you accept Christ every day great idea has God given you a new heart with new loves so that now you love righteousness the contrast couldn't be clearer here between Abraham and Lot both did what they love to do Abraham serving the possessor of heaven and earth lot serving Sodom they were where their hearts wanted to be let's pray father our hearts are so deceitful they are so filled with our self-love and self-absorption and ego show us that today father that we might genuinely that we might genuinely be led to a point of saying God I can't change my heart words of the song that we sang last week here's my heart O taken seal it seal it for thy courts above if God's talk to you today would you talk to him say God give me a new heart do in me what I cannot do myself I embrace Christ to change my heart would you tell him that father give us the faith of Abraham and take from us Lord the heart of lot in Jesus name we pray amen amen well this is Pastor Lutzer you know my friend I've learned a lesson regarding communication people listen more carefully with their hearts than they do their minds as a boy when I was reading the scripture I was always puzzled by the words of Jesus he who has ears to hear let him hear I thought everybody I know has ears to hear what Jesus is saying is they don't have hearts to hear so I have to ask you today how is your heart where are you at spiritually on your journey well you know this series of messages is titled strength for the journey it's really the life of Abraham who by the way shows up in the New Testament in many many different references he's a very important man for us to understand and I believe that this series of messages will introduce him to you in a new way for a gift of any amount it can be yours now here's what you do you can go to RTW offer dot-com that's RTW or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337 you know in the New Testament we discover that the reason that there are stories in the Old Testament true stories of course is to instruct us to guide us to learn and to be able to benefit from people's mistakes as well as their good decisions that's why I believe the series strength for the journey will be a great blessing to you and you can have it listen to it again and again let me give you that contact info and when you connect with us I want to thank you so much for standing with us with your prayers and your gifts go to RTW or call us at 1-888-218-9337 remember the series is titled strength for the journey and all of us need strength for the journey all the way to the finish line. You can write to us at running to win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614 in Genesis 15 God promises Abraham numberless offspring and pledges to give them much of the Middle East now that's something really big next time on running to win God's guarantee of a land and a people to bring forth the Redeemer running to win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life thanks for listening for Dr. Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister running to win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-20 14:55:05 / 2023-04-20 15:02:53 / 8

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