"and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men...."

Lot, by choice, had embedded himself and his family within the confines of the city of Sodom, a city well known for their wickedness. The Lord in His righteousness, graciously would almost forcibly lead this family out of the city before raining down judgement. Yet, the final chapter of Lot and his family, is hallmarked by disaster, disgrace, despair and death. Indeed, a horrible epitaph brought on by poor decisions. In this, we are surely reminded that we take even the "slam dunks, the no brainers" to the Lord in prayer. The "obvious" choice of the well watered, lush and prosperous city of Sodom would eventually lead to a loss of witness and power, compromise and bring a love for the world.

Pastor Russell

"And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me," says the Lord Almighty.
 
For some, we've had good fathers, others bad, even abusive, some absent or part-time, while others multiples, or uncles or grandfathers stepping in. But for now, we who are in Christ Jesus, know the greatest joy of having a perfect heavenly Father. One who never fails, He always keeps His promises, He is the Father of lights who has given us every good and perfect gift in His Son, Jesus Christ. Look to Him, give Him the praise, honor and glory, so rightfully His.
 
Pastor Russell
"So he waited.... Then he waited.... Then God spoke to Noah, saying go out of the ark, you and your wife and your son's wives with you." 
 
Many months had gone by and now we finally see the Lord giving Noah the go ahead to leave the ark. In previous verses, we saw that Noah found favor with God, and that he was careful to obey all His words, and in this we are truly amazed at Noah's faith and trust in the Lord. But even more astonishing was his patience. Cramped, smelly quarters, lacking freedom of movement, boredom, snappy animals (four and two legged) may have been just the tip of the iceberg that could test the patience of even the best. Like Noah, as well as you and I, we could be sorely tested as we wait on the Lord. Open doors, closed doors, ministry opportunities, frustrations because things aren't going as we want, even fear, malaise or not wanting to go tests our patience. "But God remembered..." (Gen 8:1). And God as He did with Noah He does for us, granting all of His grace for us to wait, listen and obey as He wills His perfect plans for our lives.
 
Pastor Russell
Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless."
 
Here, we hear the soft voice of the Lord as He invites the man Abram to walk with Him. But much more than just a physical walk, the Lord implies a much deeper fellowship and communion in an abiding ongoing relationship. So the Lord calls many today, that we would walk with Him in the same light of the love of Jesus Christ. His hearts desire that we would know His grace and mercy, that we would be washed and cleansed, being without spot or blemish, complete, whole in Him.
 
Pastor Russell

"and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;"

As we look at one verse that describes the man Noah, we find that the Lord not only preserved he and his family, but called him a preacher of righteousness. An important attribute as God had called him not only to the task of building the ark, but telling those around him of His righteousness. The Lord called Noah to proclaim the excellencies of God, along with the impending judgement to come. While we are not told of multitudes of converts or mega-church ministry, we see in Genesis that Noah simply did all the Lord directed him to do. Child like faith in obedience brought Noah and his remnant family through the flood, escaping judgement. We should all look to Noah, as to be preachers of God's righteousness as we see the day drawing near.

Pastor Russell

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; your reward shall be very great."
 
Leaving the comfort and familiarity of his family and home, Abram was led into uncharted lands filled with unknown peoples, some with unsavory motives. Facing even dissension within his own camp, uncertainty and doubt may have crept in bringing fear. But God, in His faithfulness, comes with a word of reassurance and hope. Like our Lord today, He is faithful to remind us that He is a shield about us. Why fear? In Him are the great blessings of an abundant life, filled with love, joy, peace and hope even in the darkest of times. The days we live in bring opportunities for us to pray for those around us, and share the good news of Jesus.
 
Pastor Russell
"But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord."
 
We ended our study on a high note on Wednesday with the word telling us of how Noah found favor or grace in the eyes of the Lord. Previous verses painted a glum picture of how wickedness and evil prevailed throughout the earth, yet Noah found favor with God. It's amazing how the Lord, in His great love, will seek and search out people whose hearts are turned towards Him. In good and bad, in easy and hard, the Lord never changes, He looks from heaven, He sees our hearts and desires to strongly support those whose hearts are completely His. Lets all purpose to not be drawn away but focused in oneness of heart and mind and intent upon the Lord.
 
Pastor Russell
"They also took Lot, Abram's nephew, and his possessions and departed. for he was living in Sodom."
 
We see in this portion of scripture warring kings battling over lands and peoples, for setting free and bringing into submission of those around them. Like many, we believe Abram and Lot only sought only to live a life of peace, unmolested  from outside forces. But then as is today, these kings may have very well represented a spiritual battle ongoing for the souls of men. The likes of fear, doubt, discouragement, uncertainty, mistrust, pride, self sufficiency, hardened hearts and unsubmissiveness  wage war against believer and worldling alike. These all seeking to undermine the Lord's work, we recognize the ploys of the enemy, knowing that we have the tools in Christ as we ask Him to do battle in the heavenly places on behalf of His children  and those around us. The Lord would use Abram to rescue Lot, all to His glory.
 
Pastor Russell
"Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord."
 
Following a short list of of Cain's children, we find included at the very tail end of the chapter, at its break, a notation telling us of a time when men began to call upon the Lord. So encouraging this bit of information  that God was still in the picture. Man, though fallen, yet still yearning His touch, His fellowship, His filling. Somehow knowing that it wasn't his hard work or his accomplishments mixed with a bit of good luck or good fortune that brought satisfaction, but wholeness could only come in a relationship with the true and living God. Men today, still long for fulfillment that can only found in Jesus Christ. Today in all circumstances, whether good, bad or uncertain, discouraging and even scary, we can all choose to call upon the name of the Lord, and seek His perfect plan in all things.
 
Pastor Russell
So Abram said to Lot, "Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you?"
 
Though an elder to his younger nephew Lot, Abram sought not to pull rank or assert authority over his deceased brother's son. Rather with all courtesy and respect he sought an amicable resolution. It wasn't if I don't like it nobody else will or it's my way or the highway, but instead let's take it all into consideration. Abram realized the God was in control and he wasn't about sweating the small stuff, choosing to go with the flow instead of doggedly insisting having it his way. At times we can get so wound up and inflexible we miss what the Lord has, choosing to have it our way and really missing out, instead of allowing Him to have His best way. Shall we go with the flow of His Spirit?
 
Pastor Russell

"Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and they will hand Him over to the gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up."

Before entering the city, our Lord pulled His disciples aside and gave to them, a one sentence summary of what was to go on this week of His passion. His appointment with the cross would not be denied, but not before being filled with dicey dialogue with the religious leaders, ministry to the needy, broken and condemned, sleepiness and even denial by those closest to Him. Yet on that faithful Sunday morning of His resurrection, the resounding shouts of joy, relief, anticipation and wonder filled the air. With the cries "He is risen" sounding and continuing to sound for us today, His completed work on the cross is for all men.

Pastor Russell

The Lord said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have the same language. And this is what they began to do, now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them,"
 
Just a few short generations before, the stories of God's judgement and the miraculous deliverance of Noah and his family stayed fresh on the minds of the people. However, man's own attempts to unite in heart, purpose and intent stretched out to have a name as good or equal to the Lord, or even surpassing His greatness. The Lord in His mercy, would eventually come and confuse the language, their work and scatter the people across the land, He all along hoping that the people would turn back to Him and call upon His name. The Lord is still today hoping that people would turn to Him, that He may pour out His love and grace on those who still seek to do it their own way. Pray, that events of the day may incline hearts back to Him.
 
Pastor Russell