When I was a little boy just about five years old I was eating breakfast in the kitchen with my mother one day. Our kitchen table was small so we were very close to one another. The toaster was right next to her, and she could feel the heat.
So she said to me, "You should feel this toaster. It is really hot."
Now she didn't mean for me to do that. She was just talking about how hot the toaster was. But I didn't know that, so I reached out and touched the toaster.
It was hot!
Immediately, I had a blister developing on my finger and I cried at the shock of the pain I was feeling. Mom cried with me.
"I didn't really mean for you to touch it," she said as she doctored my now fully blistered finger.
There's one thing that came out of that experience: I never touch toasters in the morning because they're hot.
I Didn't Waste My Pain!
At about that same time, probably within months of the hot toaster event, maybe within days, I don't remember, I had another memorable experience. My mother was outside our house, just a short distance away, and I was in the house alone. There was no TV in those days, so I had the earlier version of a baby sitter to keep me occupied, the radio. Essentially Mom was really in the house since she had gone outside for just a moment. But that was just long enough for me to notice an empty light socket in a turned on lamp. It was one of those multiple bulb lamps that did not have a bulb in every socket.
I was curious about that empty socket and what might happen if I put my finger in it. So, overcome by curiosity, I did just that; I put my finger in that empty socket. Immediately, I felt a jolt go up my arm as I sailed across the room and I found out what would happen if you put your chubby little five-year old finger in an empty lamp socket. Although I have been around many lamps with an empty bulb socket I have never put my finger in another one since.
I Didn't Waste My Pain!
Several years later, now an adult and married but without children yet, I was pastoring the church we started in San Jose. In those days we had only one car, and that made life difficult at times. On one particular morning when I really needed to study for next Sunday, Lynna had to be at a meeting with some key women in our church, but she had no way to get there. So, I had to take her because we only had one car. I needed it before she could get back home, and she could get a ride home but not there.
But I also had to study.
So I took her, but I didn't like it much and I made certain she never did that again. On the way back I was continuing to fume thinking that many of my other pastor colleagues never took their wives to some dumb meeting when they had to study for Sunday morning when I came to a stop sign. There was a car stopped in front of me, I looked and saw there was a wide open road, and started forward, assuming the other car had already gone.
I had barely started when I stopped, suddenly. The woman driving the car in front of me got out slowly and met me at the end of her car and the beginning of mine. I had hardly gotten started so there was no damage to either car, but she showed me the scar on the back of her neck from her recent back surgery.
I was scared.
I gave her my phone number and insurance information and drove home rather humbled and considerably less angry. Fortunately, I never heard from her. But I'll tell you, ever since then, when I come to a stop sign I look left, right, left, forward. I never assume a car has gone.
I Didn't Waste My Pain!
One more story.
Nearly twenty years ago I went to my doctor for a physical, and the first thing he said to me was, "What is that protrusion in your throat?" That protrusion turned out to be a potentially malignant nodule on my thyroid which I had surgically removed with no negative impact. At the time of the surgery, my surgeon said, "I want you to go on thyroid medication because these things have a tendency to grow back and if you go on thyroid that won't happen."
Well, I didn't want to become dependent on pills, so I didn't listen.
About two years later I had another nodule and I had to have my thyroid completely removed. Now I am totally, even desperately, dependent on pills.
I Wasted My Pain!
I'm sure you could tell many stories like the ones I have told you this morning, stories in which you didn't waste your pain and stories in which you did.
All of us have had experiences that have taught us not to touch hot toasters or put our fingers in lamp sockets or assume on other drivers or to listen to our doctors, and the majority of us have not wasted our pain.
But what about sin?
Have we learned not to waste our pain when it comes to sin?
We are in the process of answering the question what do we do when we have come back from sin to God? We have finding our answers from the life of Abraham who is our teacher. And one of the things we are learning is that we always bring sin home.
Our Sin Patterns Become Our Family Patterns.
We have learned that the first step is to return to God; to go back. We have learned that our second step is to realize our past sin affects our present life. As a result, we need to act in every way we can to prevent sin from gripping our lives.
Today we turn to our third and last answer found in Genesis 14. Come with me to Genesis 14 where we see a historical event designed to teach us our last critical step.
We begin with the fact that
In this passage filled with strange names and the description of a far-away skirmish, not even a blip on history's screen, we see two vital realities resulting in one key truth. We see Lot, the man who took his easy money and chose the fun life, in great trouble. And we see Abraham, the man who sinned and led Lot into sin in order to sin some more, complete his return to God.
Abraham Didn't Waste His Pain.
1. There was a group of five ancient kings who had been forced into subjection to another group of four ancient kings.
a. For twelve years they paid tribute to their conquerors.
b. In the thirteenth year they refused to pay any more tribute.
c. So in the fourteenth year the four conquering kings came to collect their dues.
d. The four eastern kings came from modern day Iraq and they swept down the east side of the Jordan river to the south and southwest of the Dead Sea before turning northward to confront their four rebel leaders.
e. Even though the odds were in favor of the five, the four easily defeated them.
Now it would be perfectly natural to ask why is this in the text?
We are talking about one of the most important men in all of God's program. Why do we interrupt it with this useless story?
Look at verse 12: they took the easy money man, Lot.
2. Easy money comes with a high price.
a. Lot had come into everything through Abraham.
b. He had not gotten his wealth on his own, but through his uncle, Abraham.
c. Like so many Christians who focus on money, Lot was attracted to the good life, not the godly life.
d. There was no reference to God's will or purpose in Lot's choice.
e. He lifted up his eyes and saw (Genesis 13:10) and chose for himself the Jordan valley (Genesis 13:11).
f. Lot was attracted by the lust of his eyes.
g. Unfortunately, the lust of his eyes was not balanced by any values in his soul.
Lot found it easy to live among immoral people.
Now we all have to learn to live among immoral people, as the Bible tells us in I Cor. 5:9-13.
h. But we cannot allow ourselves to enjoy the escapades of immoral people.
Kelly and Tosha Williams are starting a church for Generation X'ers, and they are ministering to immoral people--but not enjoying their lifestyle.
Lot loved the life in Sodom.
And he was only there because Abraham disobeyed God and had to live with the results of his previous sin.
3. Abraham risked a rescue (Genesis 14:13-16).
Past sin presents a present obligation to Abraham, because past sin sometimes stays for the rest of our lives.
a. He had allies (Genesis 14:13).
b. He had resources (Genesis 14:14).
c. He had wisdom (Genesis 14:15).
d. He won (Genesis 14:16).
Now we begin to see the point of this chapter.
Why all this information about these strange sounding names, these irrelevant places, and these useless battles?
Again, we are faced with another strange name and another strange event.
1. At this point Abraham faced a test, a choice between the old way and the new way.
2. The king of Sodom came out to meet him (Genesis 14:17).
3. At almost exactly the same time, the King of Jerusalem comes out to meet him (Genesis 14:18).
4. The King of Jerusalem is a man with a strange name who plays a great role in the Bible although this is the only time we meet him (Genesis 14:18).
a. His name means the King of Righteousness.
b. He is King of Jerusalem, so he is the King of Peace, since Salem means peace.
c. He is identified as a picture of Christ (Hebrews 7:2).
5. Acting on God's behalf, Melchizedek comes to bless Abraham (Genesis 14:19-20).
6. Melchizedek focuses Abraham's attention in the right place.
a. He speaks of God Most High, the mightiest and most powerful of all, greater than any king or potentate or president or prime minister or anyone in all of history.
b. He possesses heaven and earth.
c. All things are His, and there isn't anything that He does not own.
6. Abraham chooses to trust God by giving to His representative (Genesis 14:20).
a. Abraham is a changed man.
b. Before he acted to get.
c. Now he gets to give.
d. Abraham is beginning to understand the source of his true security.
e. It is found in the God Most High who possesses heaven and earth.
Now we see the point of this chapter, the third of our steps back from sin to God.
This is the point of it all.
When It Comes to Sin Don't Waste Your Pain!
Return To God.
Realize Your Past Sin Will Affect Your Present Life.
Remember to Learn from Past Sin So You Don't Do It Again in The Future.
This is exactly what Abraham does.
1. The king of Sodom offers a great deal, such a great deal that only a fool would turn it down.
a. It was a valid offer because Abraham had earned it.
b. It made great sense.
2. It is a temptation in exactly the same area where Abraham had sinned before.
a. It was a temptation in the area of financial security.
b. He had turned to a king before.
Would he turn to a king now?
3. Abraham had a new source of security (Genesis 14:22).
a. It is not his own cleverness.
b. It is not his own self-reliance.
c. It is not his own scheming.
d. It is the LORD Most High God.
4. Abraham rejects this offer.
a. In the eyes of most this is a stupid thing to do.
b. This is a valid offer.
c. He had earned it.
5. But the King of Righteousness and Peace taught him to trust the Most High God.
a. God was gracious to Abraham to send him help at just the right moment.
b. God knows our hearts and responds to them.
6. From now on, Abraham would trust God for his security.
The key point of our lesson today is this:
DON'T WASTE YOUR PAIN!
But there is an additional question we need to consider.
How can you tell when you should turn down a deal?
How can you tell whether it's the king of Sodom or the the King of Righteousness and Peace?
This is what I want to talk about in the next message.