Wednesday, January 4, 2011
Choices, we all have them and think more of them as a new year begins. One Los Angeles man is under arrest because police say he made the choice to start lighting fires Ė lots of fires.
What are the choices you are making in a new year? The idea of New Yearís resolutions isnít new. Even the meaning of January has significance. The Roman god named Janus is portrayed with two faces Ė one looking forward and another looking back. The tradition of the New Year's Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar. With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts with the beginning of each year. What are your choices and resolutions for 2012? Welcome to HT, Iím CM sharing the GS thatís all about Jesus and a program called ďChoices MatterĒ as I invite you to join me in reading the Bible in 90 Days. You know most of us try and fail, even though we want to read the Bible cover to cover. There are many ways to try Ö do it in a year, do it in two years Ö and still 80% of people who try, donít make it to the end. So, what about trying the 30-thousand foot approach. Do it in 90 days, like my friend Ted Cooper. He was an agnostic and decided to challenge God to prove he was there. Thatís how it started and if you want to hear Tedís story and missed it on Monday, we have that program posted at haventoday.org. Thatís where you can order a special edition of the Bible to help you read Godís word cover to cover in less than three months. Haventoday.org. You can also download the schedule if you prefer to use another translation. Haventoday.org. Or call us after the program to order the Bible in 90 days by calling 1-800-654-2836. Thatís 1-800-65-HAVEN. In the next few minutes I want you to meet Abraham, a man who makes his first appearance in the first dayís reading of the Bible in 90 Days. If every anyone committed himself to beliving the bare word of a promising God, it was Abraham. Itís little wonder that heís held up in the New Testament on three occasions as the supreme example of pre-Christian faith: ďAbraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.Ē Itís in the New Testament, but youíll read it first in the book of Genesis. Little wonder also that of all the portraits hanging in the gallery of faith-heroes recorded in the New Testament in Hebrews 11, Abrahamís is by far the largest and most detailed. Abraham made his mistakes. At times he failed to believe God, either through stubbornness or ignorance, or just plain rebellion. His life story is etched like ours with failure and inconsistence, weakness and sin; but above all it bears the marks of Godís grace which is determined to make Abraham the man who believed God. May it be true of us all that the blessing given to Abraham will come to us through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we may receive relationship with the Living God. HT opens with
OPENING SONG Ė
Choices Matter, thatís what weíre calling this HT, Iím CM. If youíre joining me in reading the Bible in 90 days on day one you get to Abraham and you learn about the choices of three Ė Abraham, his nephew Lot and God. And you learn that choices matter. Letís share Godís Word together from Genesis 13:
1 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. 2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.
3 From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier 4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the LORD.
5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarreling arose between Abramís herders and Lotís. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.
8 So Abram said to Lot, ďLetís not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Letís part company. If you go to the left, Iíll go to the right; if you go to the right, Iíll go to the left.Ē
10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD.
14 The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, ďLook around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring[a] forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.Ē
18 So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the LORD.
Godís Word from Genesis 13, the first day when you read the Bible in 90 Days. Stay with me, later I want you to meet a Houston man who sell Lexus automobiles and hear about his reading Godís Word cover to cover. If you read earlier in Genesis, you learn that Abraham was a failure in Egypt, and here he retraces his steps back to the Promised Land. Like us, his faith grows through testing and a new choice awaits him. He knows he has to get back on Godís track for his life. He returns to the place where his faith was strong, where he knew the Lordís presence and the Lordís blessing. For Abraham, the altar was a place of rededication. You and I can learn from Abraham. When weíve gone wrong, whether through ignorance or through our own willful rebellion; when weíve tried to do Godís work in our own way; when weíe imagined that we know better than He does; when weíve gone down into Egypt Ė then we have to get back to the point where we broke fellowship with God. We need to get back to the place where we knew him and were in real communion with Him, where we were abel to call on his name, to trust and worship him. We need to go back to our altar Ė a wooden cross, where atonement was made once for all. The only way back to usefulness for a Christian who has strayed from Godís path is the way of the cross. That means repentance, because we canít come to that altar either trusting in ourselves or continuing our rebellion against God. It means submission as we confess our sin and failure, and receive at the cross the cleansing and pardon we need. Only then can our lives be open to the power and grace of the risen Lord. All our victories are his. First, Abraham, who at this point in life was still called Abram, had a choice. And he chose right. Friction and quarreling had developed between the herdsmen of Abraham and the herdsmen of his nephew, Lot. They were both rich in livestock and the land could not sustain the property of both Abraham and his nephew. He decided to let Lot choose which area he wanted for himself. I like to think he was encouraging Lot to gow in faith and learn to depend on God for himself. And if he put Lotís interests first, God would take care of the consequences for him. One thing he had learned from his failed trip to Egypt was that God had pledged himself to care for Abraham and bring him into his inheritance. He had also learned that the best way forward was not to calculate how he could bring all this about for himself, and not to act on his own inadequate understanding much less on the basis of fear, but simply to trust God. So Abraham came to the conclusion that lot couldnít rob him of what his faithful God had promised. He could put lot first, allow him to choose and in that choice let the Sovereign God choose for him. His faith is growing before our eyes.
So second, Lot was given a choice. Weíre told he looked out and sold the whole plain of the fertile Jordan river valley below him. The grazing potential was better. It may have reminded him of Eden and the Garden of the Lord. It probably reminded him of Egypt and Egypt and the richness of the Nile river valley. The text doesnít even hint that he paused to think, much less to pray. He chose prosperity. He ated in self-confidence and proably in selfishness, eager to do the best he could for himself. But he didnít keep to the lush pasture by the river. Soon we find Lot settled among the cities in the valley, near Sodom whose people were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord. By Genesis 19, we find him living within the city and acting as one of its leaders, sucked into the vortex of Sodom. Our cohices do matter even though we sometimes try to argue that they donít but there is a process, a sequence to the chain of cause and effect, though and action, about which the Bible wants us to be realistic. We choose to entertain a thought and it becomes an action. We choose to perform that action and it becomes a habit. We choose our habits and they shape our character. We choose a character and find it leads us to a destiny. Our choices matter. How many of us ask God to choose where we will live? Itís all too easy to choose on the basis of other things Ė the house we want, the place we want to live, the schooling to get us ahead. All of these are worthy in themselves. But the overriding questions should be, ďwhere does God want me to be, what about Godís plans and my commitment to doing his will in my life. This isnít to deny that one of the means God uses to guide us is the circumstances of our everyday lives, over which he is, after all, sovereign. But the fact that a door opens is not, in and of itself, proof that it is Godís way forward for us. There are other factors to bear in mind, not least of which is our own personal motivation for the course of action we are proposing, measured against the character of God revealed in his Word.
The Bible in 90 Days
For a gift of any amount
Just 12 pages a day Ö ...
[Get It Now]