The Choice (Genesis 14:17-20)
Remember when you were young--or at least younger-- when you were a teenager, and you really wanted something?
Perhaps you wanted a car. Maybe it was a ‘64 Mustang, a 287 V-eight with four on the floor, a fire engine red as smooth as silk. Or maybe it was a ‘57 Chevy with those fins and that gold colored paint. Or maybe it was a ‘35 Studebaker with a rumble seat. And remember what your father said? “I’m not going to buy it for you. I’ll go with you and make sure you don’t get taken, but you will have to save your own money to get it--and you will also have to buy your own insurance for it.
Or maybe it wasn’t a car, maybe it was a trip. Perhaps you were into drama and it was a trip to New York, to Broadway. You were going to go see “Hello Dolly” and the Empire State Building and Central Park and Radio City Music Hall at Christmas time. Or maybe you were in the band and you were going to march in the Rose Bowl Parade. But anyway your parents couldn’t afford to pay you way, so they told you, “You’ll have to earn your way. You can do some work here, but you’ll have to get a job or do some odd jobs or whatever, but you can’t go unless you pay for it.”
Or maybe it wasn’t something that exciting and exotic. Maybe you were younger. Maybe it was in hard times and all you wanted was a baseball glove or a doll house. But your parents still didn’t have enough money for it, so you had to save and save and scrimp and scrimp just to get the money you needed to buy that wonderful prize.
Do you remember how difficult that was?
Do you remember how it meant giving up a lot of things you really wanted as well?
No ice cream.
No new clothes.
Even no dates or parties.
If it wasn’t free you didn’t do it.
That was hard, especially when you thought about what you were giving up.
Did your friends ever come to you and say,
Come on, let’s go, have some fun.
It’s just this one time. You won’t even miss the money. Just work a few extra hours to make it up. You’re becoming a fanatic about this thing. Nothing is worth this!
That choice, as difficult as it was, is a picture of life, a picture of the choice we must make every day of our lives.
It’s THE choice,
The Choice between the King of
Sodom and the King of Righteousness.
It’s interesting in Abraham’s life that the King of Sodom shows up after a great victory.
This should not surprise us, of course, because that’s exactly when the King of Sodom shows up in our lives.
Abraham has just won a great battle and delivered his nephew, Lot, from captivity as a prisoner of war.
And so it will be with us when we face our own “King of Sodom”.
The King of Sodom only comes when we’re successful or moving toward success. When we’ve proven ourselves to be effective, capable, able to make an impact, then comes the temptation to trust ourselves and our resources rather than God’s.
That’s the point of THE choice.
I want us to see three things this morning:
The Choice We Must Consider,
The Facts We Must Face,
The Decision We Must Make.
We begin with
The Choice We Must Make
A. You Must Choose between the King of Sodom and the King of Righteousness.
Immediately you discover three contrasts between the King of Sodom and the King of Righteousness.
And the significant thing is that the King of Sodom makes a legitimate offer, even as your friends from those teen-age years made a legitimate appeal to you. Just as they offered you fun and a good time, all of which were legitimate, so the King of Sodom offers us some very legitimate things. The difference is that your friends wouldn’t pay for your car or your trip, and the King of Sodom won’t give you what you most want either.
The King of Sodom
The King of Righteousness
The opportunity to add to your well-being. He entices you with money, with a way to get rich and be successful--a good thing.
With wealth comes security, financial security, social security, personal power--a good thing.
Freedom from the usual conventions, the way others expect you to live. The King of Sodom and those who followed him lived as they willed and not as others told them to live--a good thing
They enjoyed the pleasures of life--a good thing.
The requirements to give rather than to get. He calls you to live a focused way of life marked by discipline and denial--a tough thing.
To take part of that which is yours and give it up, even if it threatens your security. He is more concerned with giving up than he is with security--a tough thing.
The discipline to draw limits and to accept restrictions on life. The King of Righteousness and his followers give up rather than give in--a tough thing
No more independence, but dependence--a tough thing
So this is the choice:
The King of Sodom gives while the King of righteousness takes,
and we must choose between the two.
To put it another way, we must choose between getting and giving a tough choice.
But is it really a tough choice?
Let’s look at the facts we must face.
The Facts We Must Face
But there’s another thing we need to know.
If we think ahead, the choice isn’t really so tough after all. Because the King of Sodom leads to destruction while the King of Righteousness leads to fulfillment.
The King of Sodom Brings Judgment While the King of Righteousness Brings Blessing--and Blessing from the Most High God!
A. God Is the Most High God.
1. There is no God like God.
2. God is sovereign, greater than any other god there is.
a. God is greater than the gods of opportunity.
b. God is greater than the gods of security.
c. God is greater than the gods of independence.
d. God is greater than the gods of pleasure.
3. God defines life, determines what is right, and controls all.
And most of all, God is for us!
God is so for us that He gave His Son for us. We do not live under the burden of a spiteful God but under the blessing of the Most High God!
B. God Is the Possessor of Heaven and Earth.
1. Simply put, God owns all things.
a. Nothing I own is mine alone.
b. It is mine to use as a stewardship.
c. As far as you are concerned, what I own is mine and as far as I am concerned what you own is yours.
d. But God owns it all.
2. God determines what is good.
a. Sometimes we face the tough choice between the King of Sodom and the King of Righteousness, between short-term gain and long-term reality.
b. Sometimes we have to trust God’s good intentions even as we had to trust our parent’s good intentions when they told us we had to earn what we wanted so greatly.
3. So we come to the essence of the facts we must face and the choice we must consider:
We Must Choose to Trust God to Meet Our Needs, and Sacrifice Our Desires According to His Will--A TOUGH CHOICE.
With this in mind, we turn to
The Decisions You Must Make.
In essence, there are six decisions you must make.
Let’s look at each one of them.
DECISION #1: Decide to Submit Yourself to God’s Sovereignty.
1. The Most High God is on our side.
a. Remember Paul’s powerful question asked when he was talking about the most confusing and distressing experiences in life.
b. He spoke of suffering and persecution and tribulations and great hurt and pain.
c. And he asked,
If God be for us who can be against us?
2. Now the answer to that question is quite obvious--just look around us.
a. If God be for us and we be for God there are many candidates who can be against us.
b. When Paul asked that question he was not suggesting that no one would be against us if God is for us.
c. His whole life after he came to Christ bears that out.
d. His answer was that no one could overcome us, not in time but in eternity.
e. Choosing for the King of Righteousness can cost us in time, but never in the long run of eternity!
Choose to trust God and submit to
His sovereignty in your life--a tough choice at times.
DECISION #2: Recognize God’s Ownership of Everything You Call Your Own.
1. Start with your life.
2. Go to your possessions.
3. Give control of everything over to God.
4. Sign a full deed of trust over to God releasing all ownership over to Him as the full Owner of all!
DECISION #3: Give Your Career to God.
1. Make the same decision Abraham made.
2. Don’t let anyone make you rich but God.
a. Abraham knew the King of Sodom was an evil man at heart.
b. Abraham knew that the deception and lack of integrity he practiced with Pharaoh cost all he truly valued.
3. Join Abraham in deciding evil people will not make you rich.
a. Now don’t misunderstand me.
b. You will have to do business with evil people.
c. Some of your customers may be evil people.
d. Some of your vendors may be evil people.
e. You may have a boss who is an evil person and you may have to stay in that situation for a difficult period of time.
f. But where you can choose, you certainly don’t have to enter into an alliance with an evil person.
A friend of mine told me a story one day about an event that happened on the golf course. He was playing with a man--someone with whom he might do business some day--when he started to boast about how he was having an affair and keeping it from his wife. At that point my friend made a decision: I will not do business with this man.
Join Abraham and determine you will not do any more business than you must with evil men and women.
4. Also join Abraham and determine you will never deceive or deliberately mislead.
a. Unfortunately, unintentional misunderstandings happen all the time.
b. But Abraham deliberately deceived Pharaoh.
c. Do not ever do that to advance your career or anything else.
d. Trust God and be honest.
DECISION #4: Live in Light of Long-Term Realities, Not Short-Term Desires.
1. Short-term, the deal the King of Sodom offered was a lot more attractive than the one the King of Righteous offered.
a. After, it certainly looked better to get than to give.
b. Profit is better than loss, unless the long-term profit costs you more than the short-term loss.
c. Anyone who runs a business must take this into consideration.
d. Anyone who runs a career must take this into consideration.
e. Anyone who lives a life must take this into consideration.
2. So much of life looks so good until the long-term implications are factored in.
a. Immorality looks good until one considers its fully developed fruit.
b. Alcohol looks good until one meets an alcoholic and the members of his family.
c. Dishonesty looks good until we see executives doing time in a minimum security prison with their careers destroyed.
d. Racism looks good to some until it shows up in the headlines and it costs your company three billion dollars.
Pay attention to the difference between short-term and long-term realities and realize God looks at the real long-term realities.
DECISION #5: Make Every Choice in Light of These Realities.
1. This is life.
2. The Most High God, Possessor of heaven and earth, can meet every one of your true needs.
3. None of us needs as much as think we do.
4. Remember God in every decision you make.
DECISION #6: Depend on God for All Good Fortune.
1. Never put yourself in a position of obligation to godless people for short-term gain.
a. I understand that you cannot leave corporate America.
b. I don’t want to be some kind of Pollyanna preacher.
c. I understand that you may end up as Daniel did in Babylon.
d. But Daniel chose to trust God and live according to His way.
e. If God puts you somewhere He will also give you a way out that doesn’t include sin.
f. You don’t have to give into the King of Sodom if you will trust God the way Abraham and Daniel did.
2. Don’t let anyone but God make you rich.
3. Maker sure you control the core values in every commitment you make.
a. If you have made a commitment you can’t control, as Abraham did when he went to Egypt, do what Abraham did when he came out of Egypt: remember to learn from your sin.
b. Get out of such a commitment as soon as you can and never enter into another one as long as you live.
c. Define your values ahead of time and never break them, no matter what it costs you.
d. Remember, you are not saving up for a car now.
e. Now you are saving up for your character, and that’s worth far more than a car or a trip or anything else.
f. You are saving up for the heritage you want to leave behind.
g. You are saving up for God’s glory.
4. Make less and stay away from bondage to the King of Sodom.
I want to close this morning with two stories.
One I have told you before and one I have heard many times. The first is the story of Bob Johnson who took what the King of Sodom had to give and then spent ten years trying to give it back so he could give to the King of Righteousness. The second is the story of many people who have made difficulty ethical and family decisions in the course of their career only to discover that choosing the King of Righteousness meant God stood by them, protected them, and promoted them.
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