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The Glimmer of the Godly in a Cauldron of Crisis
Genesis 14
Skip Heitzig

Genesis 14 (NKJV™)
1 And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations,
2 that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar).
3 All these joined together in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea).
4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
5 In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him came and attacked the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim,
6 and the Horites in their mountain of Seir, as far as El Paran, which is by the wilderness.
7 Then they turned back and came to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and attacked all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who dwelt in Hazezon Tamar.
8 And the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out and joined together in battle in the Valley of Siddim
9 against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of nations, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar--four kings against five.
10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of asphalt pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled; some fell there, and the remainder fled to the mountains.
11 Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way.
12 They also took Lot, Abram's brother's son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
13 Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, for he dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner; and they were allies with Abram.
14 Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.
15 He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus.
16 So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people.
17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him.
18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.
19 And he blessed him and said: "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And he gave him a tithe of all.
21 Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself."
22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth,
23 "that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, 'I have made Abram rich'--
24 "except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion."

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Making Your Mark

Are you satisfied with just getting through life or do you want to make a difference? God calls each of us to play an important role during our lifetime, but we often forget to seek His will. Join Pastor Skip Heitzig as he looks at the life of Abraham in this two-volume series. Abraham had both ups and downs when it came to his spiritual journey, but he made a lasting mark deep within the fabric of three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. You may find striking parallels between Abraham's life and your own experiences. Learn how to leave a lasting impression on your world as you study the life of this great father of faith. Don't just live--make a mark with your life!

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Open our Bibles to Genesis the fourteenth chapter. Heat seems to bring out the worst in people as well as the best. This week on Thursday the electric grid in the northeastern part of the United States and the upper eastern Midwest went out and it brought out the worst in a few folks, a few reports of broken windows and looting of stores; but not many. It also brought out the best. And what astonished a lot of officials is although millions of people were without power and the temperatures were sweltering, the heat was so high that people were kind, considerate and even helpful. A few reports of folks who emptied their refrigerators and invited people in the neighborhood over to eat out in the street, just eat all the food, it was going to go to waste anyway. But they got to meet neighbors they had never met before. Others went out in places like Boston and New York City and went stargazing, a sight they, many of them had never seen because of the light pollution. And it's the same way with corn, intense heat, if you put normal corn in a 400 degree pan it will wither, it will shrivel, it will become hard. But put popcorn in this same pan at the same temperature and the heat causes gasses to expand and you know the rest of the story. It expands several times its original size and it becomes a delight, a delightful treat to young and old alike.

That's how adversity works. Some people, when the heat of adversity is on, become hardened, shriveled; others become enlarged by it, bettered by it and bless others because of it. Chapter 14 is the story of a crisis. It is an international crisis, one that involves Abraham's nephew, you remember his , name, Lot, he is captured. And that crisis moves Abraham to action, things happen within him that cause him to be enlarged and very very helpful during this heated time. He comes through shining in it. In fact, better than comparing Abraham to popcorn, we should probably compare him to gold. Just like gold is heated up and the impurities are skimmed off the top, this man glimmers in a cauldron of crisis, he shimmers through the whole thing and we're going to look at that tonight.

There's a passage, I know we should begin in Genesis 14 but I want to begin in I Peter chapter 1, let me read it to you, not the whole chapter just a couple verses, "These trials," says Peter, "are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies and gold and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world." Just as fire tests and purifies gold, adversity tests and hopefully purifies believers. And Abram, as I say, comes through this glimmering. Here's the crisis: do you remember Lot made some poor choices. One is that he lifted up his eyes and chose the best that the world had to offer, he pitched his tent toward Sodom, now we find him in this chapter living in Sodom. And this is a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Why? Because a super power comes in and captures that whole area including Lot, he becomes a prisoner of war in this. And Abraham responds to a crisis in another man's life. The issue is this: how do growing godly people of faith respond in a time of crisis? When that daughter that you warned not to date that guy, "Don't date him, he's slimy, he's no good." When she dates him anyway, when her grades suffer because of it and maybe she even ends up pregnant, how do you respond? When that son of yours squanders his college fund on some worthless thing that he wanted, how do you respond? When your business partner invests all of that money in swampland in Florida and loses everything, how do you respond? When you hear of it, when you get the phone call? That will bring out the very best in you or it will bring out the very worst in hou. Do you gloat? Do you get angry and say, "I told you so." Or do you take a different tact, that's what we're going to consider tonight, we're not going to read the whole chapter but some select verses, but you might want to ask as we go through this, what kind of a friend do you want when you're going through a crisis? And I think Abraham will fit that bill. But then you should quickly ask yourself, what kind of a friend ought you to be at a time of crisis? Now I want to give you tonight if you're taking notes, five qualities, let's tell them five glimmering qualities that people of faith, godly people have at a time of crisis. Let's read the first couple of verses, I'm not going to read all of them, you'll see why after two verses. "It came to pass in Amraphel king of Shinar, Areoch king of Alisar, Ketelaomar king of Elam, Title the king of the nations; that they made war with Birah, the king of Sodom; Beershah king of Gomorrah, Shinab the king of Odmah; Shenemebber the king of Zeboim and the king of Belah, that is Zoar." And so goes the story all the way down to about verse 11. So I'm going to kind of set up the story for you and read basically verses 11 down to the rest of the chapter. But let me give you the first quality that comes out and that is sympathy. Sympathy. I want you to go down now to verse 11, "they (and I'll explain they in a minute) took all of the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all of their provisions and they went their way. They also took Lot, Abram's brother's son, (that is Abram's nephew) who dwelt in Sodom and his goods and departed." Let me give you the background. This is the very first war that is described in the Bible. In fact, truth be told, this is the first specific description of war in history. Now I know that you could look at documents and stella and shards and documents of wars from different countries that predate this but this is the first time specifically we are told who was at war. The first full specific description of war in history. Who does it involve? Four kings against five, four that form a coalition from the east headed up by a guy named Kedarlaomer, they're from the area where Abraham came from, from Mesopotamia, from the Euphrates river valley. And they came in and swept through the land taking five city states around the area of the Galilee and the Dead Sea, that eastern portion of Israel, including Sodom and Gomorrah. After they took those five city states they placed them under attacks or a tribute for about twelve years. In year thirteen, those five kings said, "We've had enough, we're going to rebel," They did, didn't work. This roused the wrath of those four superpowers, that coalition, they swept through that desert region, plundered and killed and took captive a lot of people. And one of those captives was a guy by the name of Lot. Abraham hears about it and Abraham acts. Look at verse 13, "then the one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, for he dwelt by the terabynth tree of Mamre, the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner and they were allies with Abram. Now when Abram heard that his brother (that is his nephew, it's just sort of a generic term for that) was taken captive, he armed his 318 trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. As soon as Abram heard of what was going on, no doubt heard the news but now he is acting when it comes to Lot. Which is very interesting to me because if you remember last week's story, there was a strife between Abram and Lot's herdsmen. And Abram basically said, "Lot, you choose, take the best of the land if you want to (which he did) and they parted company, they separated. It would have been very easy for Abram in hearing the news that it involved Lot, to go, "Hmmm, isn't that interesting. He made his bed, he can sleep in it, it serves him right. He's the guy that pitched his tent toward Sodom and moved to Sodom." But rather than doing that there is an immediacy in response that strongly suggests sympathy. He cared, he was concerned and he went and he did something about it. Now from an ancient historical perspective, this is unusual. If you read ancient history, you know that sympathy, grace, mercy were not high on the list of ancient qualities among kingdoms. In fact, one Roman historian philosopher said, "Mercy is a disease of the soul and the ultimate sign of weakness." That is why you read stories, the ancient world filled with intrigue and revenge and cruelty, not. Not sympathy, not rescue. But here we have a change. Abram is touched, is sympathetic, cares, and he moves, he acts. Now that ancient world, you might think, "Well that has changed, today people are certainly more merciful, more gracious and would move whenever anybody had a need." Not necessarily so. Not necessarily so. It is human nature to let those who have made a mistake stew in their mistake. Or even worse, even worse.

I'm going to read to you an excerpt from the Satanic bible, just to show you the difference. This is an excerpt of their remake of the beatitudes that you're familiar with from the sermon on the mount. It says, "Hate your enemies with a whole heart. And if a man smite you on one cheek, smash him on the other. Smite him hip and thigh for self preservation is the highest law. Stop the way of them that would persecute you, let them be as chaff before the cyclone. And after they have fallen, rejoice in thine own salvation. Cursed are the weak for they shall inherit the yoke. Cursed are the righteouslessly humble for they shall be trodden under cloven hooves." Well I'll tell you what if Abram would have that mentaility, Lot would have had no chance. But see, the godly are different in a time of crisis. When there is a war or there is a famine, who acts first? I'll tell you who acts first, generally it's Christians act first. Other people may have sympathy that wells up inside them but historically it's shown whenever you need food or medicine or immediate response to a crisis, it is those believers or nations who have been influenced by Christians that respond quickly. Sympathy. What did Nehemiah do when he heard about the people in Jerusalem, his brothers suffering? He wept and then he acted. What did Jeremiah do when he saw Jerusalem fallen by the Babylonians? Did he say, "Well I prophesied that to them. Hah!" No, he wept. What did Jesus do when he looked over the city of Jerusalem knowing they would reject him and knowing that the Romans would come and destroy them? He wept for them. "Oh, if you would have only known what could have been yours in this your day." Jesus Christ, the ultimate man of compassion. You know, it even says that when Jesus saw the crowd in Galilee, he was moved with compassion because they were like sheep having no shepherd." And it's an interesting term, the word moved with compassion is a Greek word splonkna which literally means intestine, he was moved in his intestines. Ancient people used ot equate the deepest emotional part of a person in the gut. We might say today, "I love you with all my heart," they would say, "I love you with all my intestines." And to feel deeply was to feel something deep inside the gut. That's why it says in Colossians in the old King James Bible, to be filled with bowels of tender mercies. The idea is compassion. Jesus had great compassion that he felt toward people. And of course he said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall themselves obtain mercy." One of the greatest attributes a Christian can emulate in his or her Savior is to be a person of mercy, sympathy, compassion. Not to say, "Well it serves those sinners right, it serves those backsliders right." Paul puts it this way, "Brethren, if anyone you know is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Can I ask you frankly, is sympathy, mercy, one of your attributes? When something bad happens to somebody is there that immediate knee-jerk, "Oh I want to help." Somebody once said, "How many prodigals are kept out of the kingdom of God by those unlovely characters who profess to be inside?" So he moves quickly, that's sympathy.

There's another trait I want you to notice in the next couple verses: bravery. Sympathy one, second bravery. Go back to verse 14, "When Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his 318 trained servants who were born in his own house and went in pursuit as far as Dan." That's going way way up north. "He divided his forces against them by night and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah which is north of Damascus." Now we're starting to see a whole new side of Abram. We know he's a man of faith, we know he's a man of peace because he said to Lot, "You take the bst, we're not going to strive, we're not going to have quarrel." So he's a man of faith, he's a man of peace, but here he has this lion-like courage to arm his servants and go to war. Some of you know about Proverbs 28 that reads, "The wicked flee when no one pursues but the righteous are as bold as a lion." Now notice something, Abram has how many servants? 381, that's a large staff but it's a very small army. And it's an especially small army against a federation of four superpowers during that time. The four kings of the east, but there they are, armed and dangerous and ready to fight. These are brave men. And verse 15 suggests a strategy, they decide, "Let's do something at night when it's dark, let's divide the troops up for an ambush." And perhaps they used some of the other men that are mentioned in this passage, the allies of Abram that helped in this force. But they went after them and this suggests bravery. True sympathy begets bravery. Listen carefully, sympathy begets bravery and here's why: people who know their God know what God would do in a time of crisis and they act like him. Daniel chapter 11 says, "The people who know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits." Think of Gideon and his three hundred against the Midianite army, that's a great exploit. Think of a little shepherd boy named David against a big old nine-foot dude named Goliath, that's a great exploit. Think of Joshua and Caleb saying, "Let's take the land. The giants? We'll eat them for lunch." That's a great exploit because they know their God and they're ready to go for it. When was the last time that others saw your bravery? When was the last time you were moved with compassion and you acted upon it? The last time you dared to emerge from behind the hallowed walls of your church and take an assessment of needy hurting people around you and say, "I am moved with compassion for them and I'm going to do something about it." Whether it be the homeless, whether it be little children innocently slaughtered in abortion clinics, whether it be kids on drugs or kids who need a big brother or a big sister. Do you remember what Jesus said in Matthew 25? "I ws hungry and you gave me to eat. I was thirsty, you gave me to drink. I was a stranger, you took me in. I was naked and I was in prison and you visited me." And Jesus said, "Some are going to say, 'I don't get it Lord, when did all that happen?' And he will say, 'Inasmuch as you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it unto me.'"

There was a lady who was homeless, she did appeal to the church for help. The church in England where she lived wanted nothing to do with her and so she wrote a little note back to the vicker of the parish. And the note said, "I was hungry and you formed a humanities group to discuss my hunger. I was imprisoned, you crept off quietly to your chapel and you prayed for my release. I was naked and in your mind your debated the morality of my appearance. I was sick and you knelt and thanked God for your health. I was homeless and you preached to me of the spiritual shelter of the love of God. I was lonely and you left me alone to pray for me. You seemed so holy, so close to God, but I am still very hungry and lonely and cold."

There's Abram. He hears of Lot, he goes, "I've got to do something." He arms his servants, three hundred and eighteen and they go for it. Sympathy begets bravery.

Notice something else that we just probably shouldn't pass over in verse 14, look at it. "He armed his 318." Now that tells me he had weapons. He carried them with him. Somehow he had the capability to give weapons, to arm 318 servants. But notice the description: they are 318 trained servants who were born in his own house. So he has weapons and he has servants who just happened to be trained in the art of warfare. Now listen carefully. Abram was a man of peace but he was a wise man and no doubt he thought, "I'm a nomad, I'm traveling through this land. It could be that something like this is going to happen. There may be a contingency where we need to get involved in a war." "I love peace," Abram would say, "in fact I love peace enough to fight for it." And so he did something. He got involved in this war. And he put himself on the line. "Greater love," Jesus says, "has no man than this that he would lay down his life for his friend." So here's Abram, man of faith, in fact Mr. Faith according to the New Testament but here he's a man of war, he is not a pacifist. Francis Shaefer the philosopher who died a few years ago said, "I am not a pacifist because pacifism in a fallen world in which we live means we must desert the very people that deserve our greatest help." And then he gives an example. He says, "Imagine you're walking down the street, you see this big thug beating up on a helpless little girl, what do you do? What does love mean to you at ath time, at that moment? Well, you'd probably go over to him, you'd want to negotiate, "Excuse me big mean bully but please don't do that. Let's sit down and talk." Well that's good but what if he decides not to, he pays no attention to you but keeps beating her up mercilessly, what does love mean to you then? It better mean that you will do anything it takes to stop that thug including putting him out of life. And so Abram moves.

Let's notice a third, go down to verse 15 again and verse 16. We move now from sympathy to bravery to capability. Capability is the third aspect. Verse 15, "He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants attacked and pursued them as far as Hobah which is north of Damascus. And so he brought back all the goods and he also brought back his brother Lot and his goods as well as the women and the people." Notice some of those phrases, he attacked, he pursued and he brought back all the goods." Now here's a guy who with strategy, with teamwork and with a sense of persistence chases these guys, these armies a hundred and fifty miles north of where he's at, north of Damascus. He doesn't just say, "I'm just going to scare them away and then it's done." He went for it until the job was completed. This is capability, he kept at it, he did it, he finished the task.

I want you to think of those three qualities, do they exist in your life? Teamwork, strategy, persistence. Teamwork, strategy, persistence. You see, whenever you are moved to do something in the will of God and you go for it, you may not get instant success, you might have to work at it for days or weeks or months or even years to see any results. I remember hearing somebody once say, "By persistence the snail reached the ark." And I've thought about that, I started picturing in my mind this crazy picture of these animals going into the ark and these big giraffes with their huge steps, didn't take them long. Elephants the same, horses the same; but snails, maybe they started first. But they kept going and kept going and kept going and by persistence they reached the ark.

Martin Luther nailed 95 theses on the Wittenburg door in Germany. He didn't see change overnight, it took years to see real change occur in the church. Wilbut and Orville Wright decided, "I want to fly." And people said, "You're an idiot." In fact their own dad said, "Flight is reserved for the birds and the angels. It's blasphemy to think you could fly." Butt hey kept at it and they failed but they kept at it. They persersisted, they went all the way.

The assistant to Thomas Edison was discouraged, he said, "We've tried so many things and we've failed." They were trying to make the light bulb. Edison said, "We didn't fail, we just discovered seven hundred things that won't work." Isn't that a good way to look at it? And here's Abram with his 318 trained servants chasing four superpowers 150 miles til the job is done. Abram's sympathy prompted his bravery which led to capability. He won. He won.

Some of you know that the most famous speech ever given by Winston Churchill was given in 1941 to an alma mater, his school, called The Harlow School in Great Britain. At that time Europe was feeling the effects of the war, especially Britain, they weren't prepared at first according to Churchill, then they became prepared. And not only to that school but to a war-torn nation Churchill said this little speech: At the end he said, "Never give in. Never give in. Never never never never. In nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force, never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy." Listen, if your sympathy moves you to activity, you hang in there til you get victory. And that's what Abram did, those three qualities are the kind of qualities you want in a friend when you're in a time of crisis: sympathy, bravery, capability.

There's a fourth: integrity. Look at verse 17, "The king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shavey, that is the king's valley." So apparently in all of this battle, this guy escaped and he meets Abram. After his return from the defeat of Kedelaomar and the kings who were with him. Then Melchizidek, king of Salem brought out bread and wine, he was the priest of the God Most High, el elyon and he blessed him and said, "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth and blessed be God Most High who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And he gave them a tithe of all, that is Abram gave him ten percent of everything he had to Melchizedek. We'll get back to him in a minute but look where we started, from verse 17 now to verse 21, "Now the king of Sodom (this guy who met him first) said to Abram, 'Give me the persons (that is, the ones that were taken captive that you brought back) and take the goods for yourself.' But Abram said to the king of Sodom, 'I have raised my hand to the Lord God Most High, the possessor of heaven and earth that I will take nothing from a thread to a sandal strap and that I will not take anything that is yours lest you should say, 'I have made Abram rich.' Except only what the young men have eaten and the portion of the men who were with me, Aner, Eshkoll and Mamre; let them take their portion.'" Here's the scene, th king of Sodom named Bara comes out, Abram's coming back after winning the factory, after this great capability, and he offers him a handsome reward for his sympathy and bravery and capability. And Abram goes, "No, I'm not going to take it. I refuse." Why? Well according to Abram he has sworn an oath to God before the battle, look at verse 22, "I have raise my hand to the Lord." This indicates I have sworn something to God beforehand. Now probably because of what he says he said something like this to God, "God, you give me the victory and you'll get all the glory." You'll get all the glory, I won't take anything for myself, I won't even take any money, I don't need it. I tried that in Egypt with the pharaoh, been there, done that, won't do it again. I'll give you all the glory." Now why would he make a vow like that? Well, simply because if he didn't make the view, if he did take the money from this guy, people would say, "Oh I know why Abram did this, I know why he went to war, I know why he exhibited bravery and sympathy and capability, it's because of Bera's generosity, he did it for the money. He did it for the money. And that would diminish the glory of God and so he refuses it.

Now folks, here we're dealing with the slippery area of motives, why do you do what you do? Why do you get involved in ministry? Do you do it for fame, for notoriety? Do you do it so others would notice you and maybe you'll eventually get on staff? Or do you say, "I'm doing this purely for the glory of God." Abram did it to rescue Lot and to give God the glory. "I don't want any money," he said. Abram's attitude was like song that George Beverly Shea wrote, sang and made famous, "I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold. I'd rather have Jesus than riches untold. I'd rather have Jesus than worldwide fame or to be the king of a vast domain. I'd rather have Jesus than anything this world can afford." And this is where the integrity, this is where it comes in: Abram said something to God beforehand and now he does it. And do you know what integrity means? It means keeping your promise. It means doing what you said you'd do. Ted Engstrom wrote a book on integrity and he said he's looked around the Christian community and according to him, many Christians have AIDS. And this is how he explains it, they have Acquired Integrity Deficiency Syndrome. They say certain things, they make certain promises, but they don't keep those promises. The have AIDS, Acquired Integrity Deficiency Syndrome. Every time a husband or a wife leaves his or her spouse, every time a pastor gets involved in a scandal, leaves the church because of sexual immorality, every time a supposed Christian businessman cheats on income tax, any time hypocrisy is revealed, that's a deficiency in integrity. Abram made a promise to God, he keeps it. Temptation doesn't even get him. Integrity.

There's a final one and that is humility. I want you to go back to verse e18. We won't spend much time here, we could spend all day, that's a separate sermon but here is the fifth quality of a godly person in a time of crisis, it is humility. "Then Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine, he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said, 'Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, blessed be God Most High who has delivered your enemies into your hand.' And he gave him a tithe of all." Melchizedek is one of the most mysterious dudes in all of scripture. And yet fascinating at the same time. Who was he exactly? Well opinions vary. Some say he was Shem, the son of Noah, who lived a long time and he's still living today. Some believe he was a monotheistic Gentile king who emerges out of nowhere. Others even believe he was Jesus Christ in a preincarnate form. I'm not going to really get into all that because that's really not the center of our story. But I'll give you a few hints: His name Melchizidek melech sedech means king of righteousness, he comes from a city called Salem which is Jerusalem. We see that he's a priest, he comes out with two very familiar elements, bread and wine. He comes out of nowhere, he is the only one Abram recognizes as his superior because he receives a blessing form him and he pays tithes to him. But here's the point: tithing was considered an act of submission and worship in the ancient world. And why did he do it? Look at verse 20, he says, "Blessed be God Mot High who has delivered your enemies into your hand." Now, just as Abram refused to take money from Bera, he now gives money to Melichizidek, acknowledging, thanking God for giving him the victory in the battle. "That's right, God gave me the victory, I recognize that too." And he gave him a tenth, a tithe, a worship of all that he had. So here is genuine humility recognizing, "Well you know it's not my strategy," which he could have said, "I'm very strategic, I only had 318 guys and we beat four kings." Doesn't take any credit. He made a vow to God that He would get all the glory and now he gives a tithe of all that he possesses, thus thanking God for the victory. And here's the point: No matter how gifted, talented, or successful you are, in ministry or in business or whatever, you better thank God a lot for the success that he's given you. "Oh but Skip you don't understand, I'm so talented. God's lucky to have me." No, the truth is, God is so creative because God chooses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise," the Bible says. And I'm reminded of that every time somebody says, "Oh Skip, God has used you so magnificently." Yeah, it must mean I'm right on the top of the list of foolish things. And that's not false humility, that's just reality. And Abram recognized it, "I had 318 men, we won the battle. All glory goes to God."

So, sympathy, bravery, capability, integrity and now true humility. Five great qualities you want in a friend when you're going through a crisis. Five great qualities that ought to be in you when others are going through a crisis.

You may be thinking because I know this because a lot of people do, "Well that's all cool, that's a nice little message. But why should I even get involved in people's lives. They're so messy. So many people have so many problems. I don't want to get involved, I don't think it's my place. What good would one person's activity do? I mean if I don't do it, so what?"

There's an old legend of a man up in the Alps who lived above a village in Austria. He was paid by the village to collect debris, leaves, twigs out of the little pools that fed a spring that ran through the town. He did it. He quietly, unassumingly walked through the forest, cleared the scum, cleared the leaves, cleared the twigs, and that stream was clean as it flowed that Austrian village. Swans floated on the stream through the village, businesses relocated to be near the water, the view from the restaurants that were built around there was magnificent, the water irrigated fields. But the village at one of its semi-annual council meetings got together and the keeper of the books noticed this expenditure of somebody oddly called The Keeper of the Spring. He said, "Who is this guy?" "Well he's the keeper of the spring." "Well what does he do?" "Well he picks up sticks." "We're paying him that much money to pick up sticks? We never see the guy, he may be dead, he may go on vacation and take the money, how do we know he's really doing his job? I say we take him off the payroll." After a unanimous vote, he was taken off the payroll. Now nobody noticed any difference the first few weeks, the water still flowed through the town, but then fall came and the leaves fell from the trees and the twigs started breaking and one day in the village people noticed this brownish yellowish tint in the water. A few days later it was darker, a few days later it was really dark, a few days later it stunk and there was that scum on the shore of that spring. The swans left, so did the tourists and the village realized their error. They called an emergency meeting and they said, "We ought to hire that keeper of the spring back again." And they did. And within a couple weeks that water cleared up again and brought the village back to life. What the keeper of the spring was and meant to that little village is what Christians should mean to other Christians and even the world. Folks, there's always a crisis, there is always a crisis. Tonight after the service I'll probably hear about ten of them or twenty of them. And I don't mind that, I figure that's what God has called me to do. But there's always a crisis in somebody's life and somebody's community and we need keepers of springs. People who will get involved, sympathetically be active to help out and to rescue.

Heavenly Father, what a great example of a man who during an international crisis got involved in the life of not only Lot but in the life of these other five cities. And because of sympathy and true bravery and that unrelenting capability, won and rescued so many. A man of integrity, a man of humility. Lord, those characteristics, the Bible speaks about all of them in so many places, can be and should be ours, should be a party of our lives. And I pray Lord that you would cause some of the points of this message to be written on our hearts because no doubt this week we're going to hear of some crisis. Or right now we know of somebody else going through it. Maybe we've decided to say, "I'm not going to ge4t involved." But the debris is collecting in those lives and they need us, just like Lot needed Abram. So we pray you'd motivate us to have these glimmering qualities in the crises of other believers. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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7/20/2003
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The Past: Guidepost Or Hitching Post?
Genesis 11:27-32
Skip Heitzig
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Today we embark on a new journey, studying the life of Abraham. I'm calling it, Making Your Mark. Abraham made his mark deep within the fabric of the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. More than that, Scripture exonerates him as being an example of faith. But what about his past? How did he begin his journey of faith? You may find striking parallels to your own spiritual experience as we see five experiences that shaped Abraham's earlier life. Let’s learn the first steps in how to leave our mark of influence in our own culture.
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7/27/2003
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Buckle Up! You're Going on an Adventure!
Genesis 12:1-9
Skip Heitzig
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Have you ever thought of life as an adventure? Most people don't. Daily life becomes the daily grind as many just survive: eking out a tasteless and meaningless existence hoping something better comes along in the future. There's one factor that can make all the difference—it's called God's will! To live life according to God's promises and commands, even though difficult at times, will be the most exciting way to make your journey through this life. In this second study on Abraham, Making Your Mark, let's see three principles that brought this sense of adventure.
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8/3/2003
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Warning: Doubt Can Be Hazardous To Your Health!
Genesis 12:10-20
Skip Heitzig
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Doubting God's promises is often the foundational reason we don't experience His blessing. The children of Israel wandered for forty years before entering the Land. Why? "They were not allowed to enter his rest because of their unbelief" (Hebrews 11:19). Their legacy was often to doubt, for the Psalmist says that they, "limited the Holy One of Israel" (Ps. 78:41). Now, even Abraham, the father of faith, struggles with trusting the most trustworthy Being that ever was!
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8/8/2003
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Two Men Under One Microscope
Genesis 13
Skip Heitzig
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8/24/2003
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The Journey from Fear to Faith
Genesis 15:1-6
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8/31/2003
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A Dark Night; A Bright Future
Genesis 15:7-21
Skip Heitzig
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9/14/2003
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Taking the Long Way Around
Genesis 16
Skip Heitzig
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9/21/2003
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A New Start for an Old Soldier
Genesis 17:1-8
Skip Heitzig
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9/28/2003
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When God Makes His Mark
Genesis 17:9-27
Skip Heitzig
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10/5/2003
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How To Be God's Friend
Genesis 18:1-15
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10/12/2003
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Have I Got Plans For You!
Genesis 18:16-33
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10/19/2003
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Shock and Awe!
Genesis 19:23-29
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10/26/2003
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Re-run of a Star's Worst Episode
Genesis 20
Skip Heitzig
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The basic idea: Even after years have gone by, years of growth for Abraham, he relapsed into old behavior patterns. The sin principle is always a problem, even for the Christian. If the "old ways" are not sufficiently dealt with, they will grow and threaten to undo us. We look at four scenes in this rerun episode of Abraham, revealing how seriously this battle between the flesh and the spirit really is.
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11/9/2003
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The Gift of Laughter for Senior Citizens
Genesis 21:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Abraham is old here (age 100—a centenarian). His wife Sarah delivers the child promised by God (Isaac) and the result is joy and laughter. We learn five things about the nature of God in this passage.
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11/16/2003
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Faith... For Better or For Worse
Genesis 22:1-19
Skip Heitzig
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Skip speaks about the greatest test of Abraham's life and how he responded to it.
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11/23/2003
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Funeral for a Princess
Genesis 23
Skip Heitzig
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This message highlights the death of Sarah and her husband's response.
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12/7/2003
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Passing the Baton
Genesis 24
Skip Heitzig
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Abraham was the recipient of God's promises and blessing for many years. Now it's time to make sure that his son Isaac will also make his mark and inherit the promises of God. Abraham wants to pass the mantle of patriarch and the baton of blessing to his son by ensuring he marries the right person and continues the family line so that "all the nations of the earth will be blessed," as God had promised. What are the key principles for such an endeavor?
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12/14/2003
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A Senior Saint's Sunset Years
Genesis 25:1-11
Skip Heitzig
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Skip looks at Abraham's obituary as given in Genesis 25. After following his life from his call to leave his homeland, we now come to his last breath and subsequent burial. Encouragement and instruction for facing our own mortality will be considered.
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There are 18 additional messages in this series.
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