Reason to Celebrate

Genesis 19:15-29

15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” 16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

18 But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! 19 Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. 20 Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”

21 He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.)

23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace. 29 So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.

Jewish Calendar

Do you celebrate Christmas on the evening of December 24? Why not celebrate on the daytime or evening of December 25? Is it proper or too early to celebrate Christmas on the evening of December 24?

Unknowingly, believers celebrate Christmas using the Jewish calendar.

According to the Jewish calendar, each day begins with the evening and followed by the morning based in Genesis 1:5, 5And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

The same statement is mentioned after the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th day of creation. Since nobody knows the exact date of the birth of Jesus, should it cause problem when we celebrate Christmas on 24th or any day?

The reason for Christmas celebration is more important than the date.

Christ was born in human form to save us from eternal punishment.

Traditionally, we focus on the story of the birth of Jesus on Christmas. At any rate, we should be aware that the message of the Bible is centred on Christ and the salvation He offers. Therefore, as we remember the birth of Christ on earth, we must celebrate also because He came to saved us.

The narrative on the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is very relevant to the message of salvation. It should add to our awareness that one day, God will destroy those who did not believe in Him.

When the Lord saved Lot and his family from the destruction of Sodom, it is a very timely reminder for us that when we trusted in Christ as our personal Lord and Saviour, He has saved us from the fire of hell.

1. Save

          15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” 16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

Give careful attention to God’s warning. Before the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, the angels warned Lot and urged him to take his family away from the city. The recorded story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah has similarity to the gospel of Christ that we preach.

The Lord Jesus preached that this world will eventually be destroyed. He warned and declared about the Judgment Day in Matthew 13:49-50:

49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.    

That event was very similar to what happened before Sodom and Gomorrah were burned. The angels separated Lot and his family from people of Sodom. Was it because Lot and his family lived a lifestyle they have learned from the righteousness of Abraham that they were saved?

As we celebrate Christmas and remember the 1st Advent of Christ, be reminded of His 2nd Advent. Christ will come again to bring us to heaven.

Christ declared in Matthew 16:27, 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Be observant and expectant this Christmas not just for gifts but for a privilege to share the gospel. The Lord may present opportunities to share with a friend, relative or anybody that He had chosen to be saved about the salvation that Christ offers and warn them of the impending Judgment Day.

Bags to Riches

As former youth pastor, Dave Munson designed a durable, weather-resistant bag. “Every day, someone asked me where I got my bag. So, I had more bags made and just sold them. I didn’t think it would be so successful,” he claimed. His bags began to sell at a rapid rate — and the rest is history.

He testified, “We’ve had at least 125 people get saved there at the factory. We try to impact our employees and their family by showing them God’s love. My life’s goal is to lead people to the Lord and for God to use me. Everything we do at our company is in His name.”

His advice to young entrepreneurs seeking to start a business in a way that honours God: “If that desire is on your heart, then just start a business. God is most glorified when we’re working in the areas where we reflect Him more. Find your strengths and use them.”

“It doesn’t have to be paid by a church or working for a Christian thing for it to be a ministry. Wherever God puts you, whatever that may be, is your ministry. Study the Bible, and get to know God, seek after Him.  Whichever ministry God puts you in, whether it’s in a church or secular office, just be obedient, and He will bless that.”

This bags-to-riches story proves once again that God has a great and wonderful plan for each of us. It started with a desire of durable bag he can use as youth pastor but turned out to be his source of ministry support.

Truly, opportunity to witness starts where God has situated us. Pray and ask God to reveal His plan for you. Our lifestyle speaks of our belief.

When the angels of the Lord arrived at Sodom, they actually observed a disgraceful and disgusting lifestyle of the people of Sodom. The following morning, the angels urged Lot and his family out of the city and spared them from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

2. Spare

18 But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! 19 Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. 20 Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”

21 He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.)

Lot has exemplified a tendency to rely on human effort to get saved.

He acknowledged that he found favor in the eyes of the angels. Yet, he still assumed that the disaster will overtake them (slow to run) and he will die.

So, he told the angels of the Lord if they could go to Zoar, why?

The angels told him to flee to the mountains by why did Lot want to flee to a small town nearby? Was he influenced by his wife and children?

23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land.  24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

The term “looked back” suggests that the wife of Lot found it hard to leave behind their lifestyle in Sodom. She might have adjusted well to city life. That could be one reason why Lot hesitated to flee to the mountains.

Before Lot and his family separated from his uncle Abraham, they used to live in tents also. When he separated from Abraham, Lot went to live in Sodom. His lifestyle was changed from temporary tent to permanent house.

So, fleeing to the mountains could have been an insult to Lot, why? It means: He will live in tent again. His wife “looked back” because she can’t imagine living in tent again. She may have despised a life in tent. She had exemplified a lifestyle of believers who cannot leave behind his old lifestyle.

Profile Update

One does not need to be an expert investigator to observe a lifestyle. Social Media can easily testify to the lifestyle of anybody. Most Social Media profile updates display a lifestyle they enjoyed recently. They might have been practising what King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 8:15, 15So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.

King Solomon articulately described the kind of life he lived on earth.

As believers, to cherish the fruit of labour is sensible but remember not spend all your treasure just for earthly pleasure. Make sure that you would spend, use and save some or more for your life in eternity.

Jesus said in Luke 16:9-12, I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

The manner of spending your treasures, time and talent reflects your relationship with Christ as your Lord. If Christ is the Lord of your life, you would follow His teachings on how to spend and use your treasure.

It says in Luke 9:62, 62Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

After Christmas celebration, you may be updating your Social Media profile or account. Realize that what you upload would reflect a lifestyle. Would it be your old lifestyle or new lifestyle? Let you updates convey the message why Christ was born, which is to save anyone who believes in Him.

Do you have an assurance that when you stand before God on Judgment Day, He will let you enter His heaven? If ever Jesus comes today or tomorrow, do you have the courage to stand before the King of kings?

3. Stand

27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace. 29 So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.

It was not mentioned if Abraham appealed before the Lord for the salvation of his nephew Lot. He may have been very confident that Lot has practised righteousness. He did not asked God to spare Sodom for the sake of Lot and his family. Abraham believed that the Lord is just and righteous.

While standing at the place where he had conversation with the Lord, he saw the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. He knew that the Lord destroyed them because He cannot tolerate their wicked lifestyle any longer. It must have taught him to live a lifestyle of righteousness more seriously.

Interestingly, “Sodom” means burnt or scorch. “Gomorrah” means ruined, or heap of rubble. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah reminds not only of the coming Judgment Day but more particularly about Christ’s offer of salvation to anyone who believes in Him and His words.

It reminds us in 2 Peter 2:6-10, if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. 10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.

Do you find this message to be anti-climactic to Christmas celebration?

Christmas celebration is more enjoyable if we remember how we have been released from the imprisonment of sin as we wait for the coming of Christ the King of kings and Lord of lords to transport us into His paradise.

Paul explained what I hope and pray for each person who attend this church in 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12, 3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

11 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. 12 We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

May this message keep ringing in your mind as you celebrate the birth of Christ and look forward to His coming again.

><(((‘> ltsii/2017 <‘)))><

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