Category Archives: Encouragement

If You Linger, You Die!

I was reading my Bible today, and the story of Lot in Sodom struck me hard all over again. If you aren’t familiar with the entire story, I’d encourage you to read Genesis 18-19 and get the idea of what is going on.

Lot saw these two angels coming, strangers to the land, and immediately bowed down and invited them into his home to stay.  While hospitality was a big deal in this culture, Lot was not simply trying to be kind to the strangers.  He understood what the men of Sodom were capable of doing.  He was being protective.  He knew the ways of his city and he was ashamed and fearful.

Notice that Lot wanted to get the men in his house as quickly as he could and then get them out before anyone else in the city woke up.  In an age of hospitality, you didn’t simply invite people to stay the night, but you offered to let them stay well into the day.  Before they ever accepted his offer, as politely as he could, let them know they would be leaving early as if he knew where they were going and that they were in a hurry to get there.  To the point that when the angels declined his offer, saying they’d just as well stay in the square and set up camp.  “He pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate,” (Genesis 19.3).

He pressed them strongly.  The mental image that you should have is that of Lot nearly tackling the men as they turned to go into the square.  He lunged at them.  Perhaps picture in your head Lot grabbing the men roughly around the chest and then smoothing out there robes, saying, “What’s the hurry?  I insist.  I won’t take no for an answer.”  Lot would do anything to keep the men from seeing the sin in which he lived.  So he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread.  Once again, hospitality but fast hospitality.  A feast, but unleavened bread. There was no time for bread to rise.  He needed them to go to sleep.  It’s like the mentality of Christmas for little children.  The sooner you go to bed the sooner Christmas comes.  The sooner they went to sleep the sooner morning would come and he could send them on their way.

Can you see yourself in story?  I can.  God, or perhaps one of his representatives enters into my sinful life, and all I can do is try and hide the life in which I know I live.  Just hoping that I can get through this moment without my sin catching up with me.  Everything is fine.  It’s all good.  Great to see you; stay for a while, a little while.  Pretending that nothing is going on outside the doors of your house.

But as Numbers 32.23 says, “be sure your sin will find you out.” I am not saying that Lot was anything like the men of Sodom.  However, as we will see, he was aversely affected by them.  “But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them,” (Genesis 19:4-5).

Can you imagine the look of horror and shame on his face as he had to confront those men at his door?  Confronting sin is never fun.  It’s horrifying and it is shaming.  But sin is not something that will ever be hidden from God.  It is not something that one can pretend isn’t happening.  That sin is pounding at your door.  You hear it.  God hears it.  There’s no denying that it’s happening.  The question is, will you confront it?

Lot, mustered up his strength and confronted the men.

Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof,” (Gen 19.6-8).

Here is why I say he was aversely affected by the people of Sodom.  Rather than giving up the two men, he was willing to give up two of his daughters.  Let this be a lesson for us all.  Sin will not allow half-hearted, half-measured efforts to be satisfied.  Sin is not to be trifled with.  It is not to be bargained with.  We don’t compromise with sin.  John Owen once wrote:

Let no man think to kill sin with few, easy, or gentle strokes. He who hath once smitten a serpent, if he follow not on his blow until it be slain, may repent that ever he began the quarrel. And so he who undertakes to deal with sin, and pursues it not constantly to the death.

“But they said, ‘Stand back!’ And they said, ‘This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down’,” (Genesis 19.9).  Half-measured, half-hearted, compromising trifles are never enough when dealing with sin.  It’s kill or be killed.  As John Owen said, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”  The phrase, “pressed hard” in verse nine is the same word that was used when Lot urged the angels strongly to come to his home.  I like the NLT’s way of translating, the “lunged.”

At this point, the angels pull their host back in, strike the men with blindness, and tell Lot Sodom will be destroyed so he had better get his family out of there.  Lot went to his future sons-in-law, but they thought he was joking and did nothing.  Which leads us to verse 15 once again.  “As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, ‘Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.’”  This is the second warning for Lot.  Punishment is eminent.  There is no time to waste.

Oh that we would understand that we must flee from wickedness immediately!  The promise of judgment is assured.  It is coming.  John Piper did a series of blogs that he calls A.N.T.H.E.M.

A – Avoid all possible temptation.

N – (this is the one I’m focused on) No. Say no.  Piper says we have about 5 seconds to say no before the temptation gets lodged in our minds and hearts.

T – Turn your eyes toward Christ.

H – Hold on to a promise from God

E – Enjoy Jesus more than sinful pleasure

M – Move away from idleness and find something to do.

The warning is true.  Judgment and punishment is coming and it could come at any moment.  We don’t believe it and so we do nothing about it. We are betting our very lives that this is not the moment.  But we are assured that as every second goes by, we are one second closer, and we don’t know when.  Say no immediately.  Don’t hesitate.  Don’t linger. Don’t be like Lot. We see in the very next verse these horrifying, awful, but so relatable words, “But he lingered,” (Genesis 19.16).  I think the whole of chapter 19 revolves around those three words.  But he lingered.

As always, I’d love to read your comments, whether you agree or disagree with me. If you liked this or found this to be a blessing or helpful, please let me know that too. Feel free to share the article on your social media page or with someone you believe could be helped.

Confidence Sharing Your Faith

John Robinson faced a dilemma. He had constructed a bridge across the Mississippi to connect two cities. It was the first of its kind (at least the first large bridge of its kind). It was made of steel girders and a cantilever form. It looked beautiful. So what was the problem? No one would use it. They didn’t believe that the bridge would be able to withstand the weight of heavy traffic, and who wants to be the one that causes the bridge to collapse? Robinson was incredulous. It was made of steel! However, being the creative man that he is, he went to the manager of a circus that was traveling through and asked to borrow an elephant. It was believed that elephants could “smell danger.” If the elephant found the bridge safe, so would the people. On June 14, 1874, he threw together a make-shift parade as the elephant made its way to Eads Bridge in St. Louis. Sure enough, the elephant crossed the bridge to East St. Louis, as the people followed suit. The bridge was strong enough–powerful enough–to withstand them all.

Why do I tell you this story? Because that’s the way it is with the gospel message. It is like Eads Bridge. As believers, we look at the gospel and see it as beautiful, graceful, and magnificent. We are indeed proud of the gospel. But what we doubt is its strength. So when we have the opportunity to share the gospel with someone else, we tend not to. We tend to shy away from it because we somehow believe that we are going to be the ones to make it crumble. In other words, we’re going to mess things up. We won’t have all the answers. We’re going to stumble our way through. We’re going to offend or mix up terminology. The whole thing is just going to collapse and we made it happen. So rather than fail, and fall with the collapsed bridge, we’d rather just not go there in the first place. This shows a misunderstanding of the weight of our abilities. At the same time, it reveals our distrust in the firmness and strength of the gospel. Thus, we waver.

Read the words that Paul wrote; read them carefully: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,” (Romans 1:16). The gospel is the power. It is the strength. It is the ability. I am sure that Eads Bridge had its weight limit, but it has been 145 years and it has not collapsed yet. There is no weight limit to the gospel message. It can hold us all (even if we get our words mixed up, don’t have the answers, don’t come off as the brightest bulb in the box). Remember these words: “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lets the cross of Christ be emptied of its power,” (1 Corinthians 1:17). Christ has not called us to be the brightest bulb in the box. He hasn’t called us to use perfect words or memorize some gospel presentation. The power is not in the presentation. The power is not in the person’s knowledge. The power is in the gospel. It can and will hold us up. We need not fear our inabilities, but believe in the power of the cross, the power of the gospel.

That being said. . . if you have about 6 minutes, I would encourage you to watch this video from Tim Keller on boasting in the blood. I promise it will be worth your time.