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Have I Got Plans For You!
Genesis 18:16-33
Skip Heitzig

Genesis 18 (NKJV™)
16 Then the men rose from there and looked toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them on the way.
17 And the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing,
18 "since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
19 "For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him."
20 And the LORD said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave,
21 "I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know."
22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD.
23 And Abraham came near and said, "Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
24 "Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it?
25 "Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
26 So the LORD said, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes."
27 Then Abraham answered and said, "Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord:
28 "Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for lack of five?" So He said, "If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it."
29 And he spoke to Him yet again and said, "Suppose there should be forty found there?" So He said, "I will not do it for the sake of forty."
30 Then he said, "Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose thirty should be found there?" So He said, "I will not do it if I find thirty there."
31 And he said, "Indeed now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose twenty should be found there?" So He said, "I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty."
32 Then he said, "Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?" And He said, "I will not destroy it for the sake of ten."
33 So the LORD went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.

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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Transcript

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Would you turn with me to Genesis 18, we stopped right in the middle of that chapter last week. Genesis 18. I'm going to begin by reading you sort of a different spin on creation. On the first day God created the cow and God said, "You must go to the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun and have calves and give milk to support the farmer. I will give you a lifespan of sixty years." The cow said, "That's king of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. Let me have twenty years and I'll give you back the other forty." God agreed. On the second day God created the dog. God said, "Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. I will give you a lifespan of twenty years." The dog said, "That's too long to be barking, give me ten years and I'll give you back the other ten." (sigh) So God agreed. On the third day God created the monkey and God said, "Entertain people, do monkey tricks, make them laugh, I'll give you a twenty year lifespan." The monkey said, "How boring, monkey tricks for twenty years? I don't know, the dog gave you back ten so that's what I''l do, is that okay?" And God agreed with him again. On the fourth day God created man. God said, "Eat, sleep, play, enjoy, do nothing, just enjoy, enjoy. I'll give you twenty years." The man said, "What? Only twenty years, no way, tell you what I'll take my twenty and the forty the cow gave back and ten the dog gave back and ten the monkey gave back; that makes eighty. Okay?" "Okay," God said, "you've got a deal." So that is why for the first twenty years we eat, sleep, play, enjoy and do nothing. For the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years we do monkey tricks to entertain our grandchildren and for the last ten years we sit in the front of the house and bark at everybody." There you go, welcome to life. Now I shared that story for a couple of reasons. Number one, because the dialog toward the end of this chapter is sort of similar in its bargaining approach as you'll see. And second, because God has a greater plan for your life than that. God has a greater plan than that.

We have opened midway tonight in our chapter. We remember from last week an unusual scene: three visitors came to Abraham in the heat of the day. It's a strange scene because one of them is called the Lord and exhibits characteristics that only God could. Two of them seemed to be regarded as angels, we get that from following the story on into chapter 19 which we already did just to give identity to it. But all three of them are described as men, these visitors come. Abraham feeds them this great meal and now he shows them out. And I take you now to verse 16, "then the men rose from there and looked toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to send them on their way." These four walk eastward toward the Dead Sea facing the Jordan Valley. In front of them are the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. They enter into a dialogue, a very very interesting one. I'm calling this message "Have I Got Plans For You," because though there are themes in this closing paragraph, great biblical themes: righteousness, wickedness, justice; those are oft repeated words in our text. There is an overarching theme of purpose, plan, God's plan for Abram's life publicly, privately and prayerfully. And we're going to look at those three slices as God gives to this man what his plan is. Whatever plans your parents had for you, whatever plans you have made for yourself, you need to stop and ask, "What is God's plan? Who does He want?" Especially if you're a believer tonight and your recognize your life has been purchased at a great price. Paul said, "You don't own yourself any more." The great thing is to discover what God's plan is. Ephesians chapter 5 verse 17, Paul said, "Don't act thoughtlessly but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do." Life isn't an accident, you're not a fortuitous occurrence of accidental circumstances. Your life has purpose, a plan.

Back at The Cove this week on one of the nights they decided to show that film clip from Chariots of Fire. They showed about five minutes of it, the whole scene that happens to be my favorite scene, I've told you about it before. It's where Eric Lidell, the star of the movie, the Olympic athlete makes this decision of what to do with his life. He wants to run in the Olympics but he also feels like God is tugging his heart toward China. He and his sister Ginny are on a hillside overlooking one of the cities in Scotland. And he says to her, "Ginny, I know God made me for a purpose. For China. But he also made me fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure." And I love that because it gives such a focus to life's purpose, plan, could I say that? Could you say that? What is God's purpose and plan?

Well, let's read a couple verses down and I'll give you those three chunks. God first reveals his plan for Abraham publicly. Publicly. That is, he is to be an instrument of God's blessing. Verse 17 continues, "And the lord said, 'Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and might nation. And all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?" God asks a question. And when I read it, I asked a question. I asked, "Who is he talking to?" Is he talking to himself? My dad used to say, "I like to talk to myself because I like to hear a wise man talk and I like to talk to a wise man." And so, is this some intertrinitarian communication? Or, is God simply stating this out loud in the presence of these two messengers whom in chapter 19 verse 1 he dispatches toward Sodom? Or, is he rhetorically asking the question in the hearing of Abraham to bring focus? I think all three perhaps. He's saying it out loud, maybe he's saying it to the compadres who are with him. But obviously it's in the presence of Abraham because after God speaks his peace, Abraham is prompted to say something, which we'll read. It speaks of Abraham's public purpose. He's going to be great. He's going to be a great nation. And we see it happen. He goes from a little group of Abraham and Sarah; to Abraham, Sarah and Ishmael; to eventually Abraham, Sarah, Ishmael, and Isaac; to a tribal group and eventually to an entire nation. And eventually as we have already seen in previous studies, all of the Jews and all of the Arabs, millions and millions of people, will be able to trace their lineage to father Abraham. But here, God is zeroing in on one particular nation, and that is through the promised seed of Isaac, the son who is to come. He's zeroing in on one particular nation, the nation of Israel. Now I've often said that God has a sense of humor to tell an old man with an infertile wife that he's going to be a great nation. Not just are you going to have a kid, but you're going to be a great nation, something that was inconceivable at that point. The nation of Israel is an amazing land and an amazing group of people. I've been there twenty-six times now, I lived there for early part of my stay, when I was in my 20s, lived on a kibbutz. It's an amazing place and God has uniquely blessed the Jews. The Jewish nation, the Jewish population comprises one tenth of one percent of the world population. One tenth of one percent of the world population. And yet the Jews has received thirty-three percent of all Nobel peace prizes historically, and they hold thirty percent of all the awards in music, science, and literature. Albert Einstein marks as one of their most influential. Great strides and accomplishments like the Wasserman test for syphilis, digitalis discovered by Dr. Newslan; chlorohydrate to treat convulsions discovered by Dr. Liffreich, streptomycin discovered by Dr. Abraham Wauxman, a polio pill by Dr. Saban, the polio vaccine by Jonas Salk. James Watson and Frances Crick awarded for their DNA model. Blessed group of people. And the world has been blessed through them. But it's also a very miraculous nation. The nation of Israel has survived, after four hundred years of slavery, after two deportations and destructions, after two thousand years of being dispersed around the world and a holocaust and an inquisition. Jerusalem has suffered thirty-six wars, seventeen times she's been leveled to the ground, eighteen times she has risen from the ashes. Why? Well God made a covenant with Abraham didn't he? And he said in Deuteronomy chapter 7, "The Lord did not set his love upon you nor choose you because you were more in number than any people (remember one tenth of one percent) for you are the fewest of all the people. But because God loves you. I've always been interested in that, basically God says, "You know why I love you? Because I love you. And that's all the reason I need. It's not because of you, it's not because you're great. I love you because I love you." If you're a parent you can relate to that. You're looking at a face that only a mother can love. Because there were times when I disappointed my parents, my mother was there to shower discipline yes but always love. And here's God saying to this nation, "I love you because I love you." And that was God's public purpose for Abraham. This great nation would arise so Abraham could say, "God made me for a purpose." The purpose was that he would be a great blessing to the world. Now you might ask, "Well, that's great for Abraham, congratulations Abe, you're a great guy. But what does that have to do with me, Skip? Because chances are I'm not going to become a great nation." Well, we've noted something, if you would remember back to our second study, that a nation is simply the expansion of one person's life to great proportions. The expansion of one person's life to great proportions. And I think God wants to do that with each one of us. It is good to stop and evaluate and ask questions like, "What is my purpose? Why am I here? Am I here on this earth merely to make a comfortable living? Merely to breathe air for seventy or eighty years and wear clothes that look good on me and then die? Is that my purpose?" Not according to God, it's not. Can you say, "God made me for a purpose." Do you know what that is? Does it even matter at all to you? You see a lot of people live their life without really coming to grips with that. It's sort of all self centered, it's self focused. They don't think, "What is the great purpose for my life publicly?" But, "What about me? What about my needs?" It's been well said that a person whose wrapped up in himself makes a very small package. Abraham had a purpose and it wasn't to live a self-centered life but his life would be a blessing to others. It's interesting that these four gentlemen stood on a ridge overlooking the Dead Sea and into the cities of the plain. The Dead Sea itself is interesting. It's of all bodies of water on the earth, one of the most unique. It's unique for a couple of reasons. Number one, it's the lowest spot on earth, one thousand two hundred and ninety feet below the level of the sea. But number two, it's unique because there are no outlets in it. Plenty of water comes in every day, in the north from the Jordan River, on the east from the Arnon River, on the west from the Kidron River. But it lets out no water. Consequently because of its constitution there is no organic life in the Dead Sea. You'll find not one fisherman. It's dead. And that's because it takes in water but it doesn't let anything out. Many inlets plus no outlets equals a Dead Sea. And I might say that in a person's life, many inlets and no outlets makes a very dead person. They're taking it all in, all of life is lived around what I can get, what I can take in, but not much is lived on what can come out. Abraham was uniquely blessed. He was wealthy, he had 318 servants, he'll have a whole bunch of grandkids and great grandkids, etcetera. But all that came into his life flowed out of his life. Some of you have been floundering about your own life, your own existence. You've kind of lived life like the whole world owes you something. That's the wrong focus. I would suggest beginning tonight, beginning here and letting it trickle through the week and through the month, that you take a new strategy, and that is ask yourself, "How can my life become a blessing to others? Not, how can others be a blessing to me? How can my life be a blessing for others? Change the focus, not be so myopic but look around.

A famous psychiatrist, Dr. Karl Menninger was asked, "What would you do if you knew you were about to have a nervous breakdown?" His answer was this, "I'd go and find someone in worse condition than myself and try and help him." He knew that there was a cure in that, that there was a cure in focusing off myself and being a blessing to others. That actually happened, I heard a story of a young man named Eddie who was suicidal. Life wasn't going where he wanted, it wasn't what he expected. He decided to end his life by jumping off a bridge into a river below which he did. A stranger named Jim saw him, reacted, jumped in after him to save him. The only problem is Jim wasn't a great swimmer, Eddie was a better swimmer than Jim and where he landed (that is Jim, the stranger) Eddie saw him and knew that if he stayed in that condition in that position going downstream, he would be dead soon. Something was stirred in Eddie and Eddie swam toward the stranger who came to save him and Eddie, the suicidal guy, saved Jim. And from that moment on changed his entire focus, brought him a sense of, well hope and meaning and life. It changed his focus. We can get so immersed in our own troubles, in our own woes. We look inwardly when we should be looking outwardly. Publicly Abraham was to be a blessing to the world. Outwardly your life is to be a blessing to the world.

Look at verse 18. "Since Abraham shall surely become a great and might nation (and notice this) and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him." Now if you put that verse together with the New Testament commentary on that verse, you understand that all of the nations of the earth would be blessed because the Messiah would come through the lineage of Abraham and the Jewish nation. Not because the syphilis test was invented later on by a Jewish man or the DNA model came out. It was something more than that. It was in a salvatory sense, the Messiah would come.

Listen to these words of Paul the apostle in Romans 9, "I tell you the truth in Christ. I'm not lying, my conscience is bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit. I have a great sorrow and continual grief in my heart for I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my countrymen according to the flesh who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God and the promises of whom are the father's like Abraham and from whom according to the flesh the Messiah will come, who is overall the eternally blessed God. Amen." Abraham's life would be an instrument by which eventually the Messiah, the answer of man's woes and sin would come into the world. I'm sharing that and I'm thinking of verse 18 because I don't see much of a difference. We have a purpose here as the church of Jesus Christ, as Christian men and women and that is to let our light shine among men, to shine the light of Jesus Christ. Jesus said to us, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." We have a job to bless the world by bringing them the gospel. A lot of them won't like it, a lot of them will say, "that's a curse not a blessing." You know that in 1963 it took two hours for the world to hear of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Some of you remember that, it's immortalized in your memory. I remember it, I was just a wee chap. 1999 it took a few minutes for the world to hear of the death of John F. Kennedy, Jr. when his plane went down in the Atlantic. Now think of that and then think of this, two thousand years ago Jesus Christ died on a cross outside of Jerusalem and half the world still doesn't know. Half the world still doesn't know. If you think that the church is supposed to be a bless me club where we just come and get stroked, you've got it wrong. You've got it wrong. We have a purpose, a public purpose, that all the nations of the world would be blessed by the message we proclaim.

Let's move down in our text to the 19th verse, we're going to round a corner now, the corner is the emphasis from the public purpose of Abraham's life to the private purpose, God includes it. "For I have known him (some versions say, "For I have chosen him) in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has spoken to him." You see how God rounds the corner in the emphasis here? Not only are you to influence the world, Abraham, you are to influence your own family, your own children." How? By what I'm going to call trickle down righteousness, or trickle down evangelism, by modeling in Abraham's own life the kind of a person God wants that would so influence Ishmael and Isaac and anybody else in that household including the servants that in seeing that model they also would follow the commandments and be righteous. You know there's an old adage, "Like father, like son." And it's not always true but it is a true generalization that children inherit certain propensities of parents. Listen to this: Sixteen percent of your child's time will be spent at school in his or her lifetime, sixteen percent. One percent will be spent in Sunday School. Eighty-three percent will be spent at home. That's where it is, that's where it begins. If parents tolerate evil, guess what? Kids will grow up tolerating evil. If parents have foul mouths, children generally emulate what they hear or see in their parents. If parents are godly, generally kids will model and emulate what they see in their parents. Now I'm not saying that your kids will always be perfect and wear halos, in fact some of you right now are dealing with a n interesting age. You might see it as the rebel force, the teenage years. "I've given them scripture, I've done things, and yet they're not responding." Yeah, I guess because they're becoming adults, they're choosing their own way. You might be tempted to check out as a parent at this age. And follow the advice of Mark Twain who said, "Things run pretty smoothly til your kid reaches thirteen, that's the time you need to stick him in a barrel, hammer the lid down nice and snug, feed him through the knothole. Then, about the time he turns sixteen, plug up the knothole." That's funny saying but that's not good advice. Don't check out as parents but live in such a way that your kids can check you out in the way you live before the Lord. "Abraham, I have a plan for you publicly. But Abraham I have a plan for you privately." It includes emulating righteousness and keeping the commands so that your kids will as well." And it's interesting that God does address Abraham, not Sarah. Though Sarah certainly had a role, a huge role, that the responsibility here was placed upon Dad. As if to say, "Abraham you're running your race, you're in the relay race, you're going to make your lap around the track carrying the baton. But the time will come when you must pass it off to the next generation. And the way you run Abraham will speak volumes to Ishmael and to Isaac."

Here's the interesting statistic I found. A study was done, if both mom and dad attend church regularly, the odds are 72 percent that the children will remain faithful spiritually. If only Dad does and not Mom, there's a fifty-five percent chance. If only Mom and not Dad there is a fifteen percent chance. All of that as if to say the influence of a father is more important than all of the efforts of Sunday School and public or even private education combined.

Charles Hadden Spurgeon used to say, "A man's life is always more forcible than his speech. People reckon his deeds as dollars, his words as pennies." I was in the State Attorney's office here in Albuquerque a few weeks ago and I found an incredible statistic. He showed me, it was a study done by UNM, the national average of violent crime and drug use among teenagers. And then he showed me another line above it showing that Albuquerque is twice the national average, twice, in violent crime and drug use among children. And I said, "You've got to tell me why." There were several factors, one of the most prominent factors is absentee fathers, dads who have abandoned or checked out of the family unit. "Abraham," God is saying, "Don't check out. Don't be so involved in the public ministry of being a blessing to the world that you neglect the family." And you might say, "Why make such a big deal of the dad? Why is the father so important?" For a number of reasons. Number one, a child's view of God often at least initially is formed by their view of their father. We call our dads Dad or Pop or Father, and we address God as Heavenly Father and that forms an image. We have a grid that we approach that new relationship with God with. Number two, it's important because your daughter's going to marry someone someday. And they're going to look for certain characteristics. They need to know what to look for. You could help them by modeling that. And number three, your son's going to marry someday and the same reasons exist. He needs to know what to become, what to be. And dad's can do that. So I would say the single most important thing a man can do is to love God with all of his mind, heart, soul, strength, and to model that in his family. Ephesians chapter 6 verse 4 says to men, "Fathers do not provoke your children to wrath but bring them up in the nurture, the training and the admonition of the Lord." Dads, it's much easier to build a boy than it is to repair a man. We are discovering that societally: it's much easier to build a boy than repair a man. So let's be about that business publicly but privately.

Let's take another corner here and look at verse 20, God's third purpose for Abraham: prayerfully. And the Lord said, "Because the outrage against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to me. And if not, I will know." Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom. But Abraham still stood before the Lord." Now the cities in question here, Sodom and Gomorrah, were at the southern end of the Dead Sea. Today that whole area is covered with a flammable bitumen and salt formation. It's part of the great Syrio-African rift and if you remember from y our college days you remember that that runs from Armenia all the way down to central Africa and includes this section of the Dead Sea and the Jordan River. It is thought that the Dead Sea area, this Syrio-African rift was the result of a great catastrophic earthquake at one time that raised the level of the Dead Sea burying those cities after a brimstone event. This flammable bitumen that is in that area that is so ignitable even to this day. Now what I want you to note about this and we'll go through it quickly is that God is moving in response to an outcry against it, he says. The question would be, "Whose outcry?" This will surprise you perhaps, it was probably Lot's outcry. You say, "Lot? I read about that guy. He was far from perfect." That's true but listen to what the New Testament says about him, "Lot, a righteous man was distressed by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day." Oh, he wasn't perfect but compared to them he was righteous. And what he saw and what he heard, he creid out to God about. Something else I want you to notice: God is fair and patient. Before he acts or reacts he's dispatching a couple of his messengers to check it out, to get an appraisal of the situation. Sort of like holy front men who will be dispatched, they were in verse 22, investigators to get information. God is patient but he eventually will act.

Okay, let's read the last portion of it and we'll close. "And Abraham came near and say and said (that's after hearing this public thing) 'Would you also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city, would you also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? Farbeit from you to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked so that the righteous should be as the wicked, farbeit from you, shall not the judge of all the earth do right?' So the Lord said, 'If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city then I will spare all the place for their sakes.' Then Abraham answered and said, "indeed now I am but dust and ashes but I've taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose there were five less than fifty righteous, would you destroy it for the lack of five?" And he said, "If I find there forty-five I will not destroy it." And he spoke to him yet again and said, "Suppose there should be forty found there." He said, "I will not do it for the sake of forty." And he said, "Let not the Lord be angry and I will speak, suppose thirty should be found there." And he said, "I won't do it if I find thirty there." And he said, "Indeed now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord, suppose twenty should be found there." So he said, "I won't destroy it for the sake of twenty." Then he said, "Let not the Lord be angry and I will speak but once more, suppose ten should be found there." And he said, "I will not destroy it for the sake of ten." So the Lord went his way as soon as he had finished speaking with Abraham and Abraham returned to his place."

Now you read that and you think it's an argument and maybe some of you are thinking if you've ever been to Israel and gone to Jerusalem to buy something in the Jewish quarter or the Arab quarter and you've bickered back and forth and tried to get the guy down to the lowest possible price. No, this is not an argument. No, Abraham isn't backing God into a corner. In verse 33, did you notice, it says, "When God had finished speaking with Abraham." Not, "When Abraham had finished speaking with God." The test suggests that God initiated this whole thing, spoke publicly what he was going to do to ignite the interest of Abraham, to get Abraham to pray about it. And he led Abraham through this reasoning all the way God wanted and then God ended it. See God wanted to show mercy all along but he got Abraham to get involved.

In I Timothy it says, "I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings, for all who are in authority that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life. Here's Abraham, there's the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, God is saying, "The outcry has come up, I'm going to destroy it if I find out the right information." And here's Abraham standing in the gap concerned so much about the lives of those people who would be there. And he taps into the very character of God in his prayer. You know, truth be told, the wicked owe the righteous a lot. So often god will bless unbelievers simply because believers are a part of it or because they have prayed. There's several examples: Laban's flocks were multiplied for Jacob's sake. Potiphar prospered because Joseph worked for him. God saved the boat on the way to Rome because Paul was in it. In I Corinthians 7, Paul writes that unbelievers are sanctified by believing spouses. There's a great deal of blessing just in the presence of the believer.

Now this is how I want to close, Jesus said of us, "You are the salt of the earth. If the salt loses its savor, it is good for nothing." You have a purpose, in other words, you are to have an influential effect on the world in which you live. A couple thousand years ago, before refrigerators, salt was rubbed on meat, it was preservative. It stopped corruption, it retarded the corruption that would quickly come upon the meat. We are to be a moral disinfectant, to make a difference. I think of the early church, half of the Roman empire were slaves. If you went to any New Testament church two thousand years ago you would find a great portion of slaves and even some slave owners. It's interesting that the church never raised one picket sign to eradicate slavery. But because they treated slaves and free people alike, as Christianity spread in the Roman empire, slavery was eradicated. That's salt. I think back to some time ago in England when William Wilberforce, Lord Ashley Shaftsbury stood against slavery. And as they stood against it, working conditions improved in England. Strong Christians being salt and being light. Question: When was the last time your presence, your presence, your influence, stopped someone from corruption? You entered the room, "Uh-oh, the Jesus freak is here. Well let's take this conversation int o the next room. Or, let's not say it all." You know, we have a purpose but did you also know that losing your purpose whether it's an individual or an organization can happen to anyone. History is littered with churches that started in revival, lost their purpose and became irrelevant. Irrelevant.

An unknown author gave this story. On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was once a crude little lifesaving station. The building was a hut and there was only one boat but a few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea. And with no thought for themselves they went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost. Some of those who were saved and various others in the surrounding area wanted to become associated with the station and give their time and their money and their effort for the support of its work. New boats were brought and new crews were trained. The little lifesaving station grew, some of the members of the lifesaving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. So they replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building. Now the lifesaving station became a popular gathering place for its members. They decorated it beautifully, furnished it exquisitely and because they used it sort of as a club fewer members were now interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions so they hired lifeboat crews to do the work. The lifesaving motif still prevailed in the club's decoration and there was a liturgical lifeboat in the room where the club initiations were held. About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast and hired crews brought in boatloads of cold wet and half-drowned people. They were dirty, they were sick, some of them had black skin, some had yellow skin. The beautiful new club was in chaos so the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned before coming inside. At the next meeting there was a split in the membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club's lifesaving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club. Some members insisted upon lifesaving as the primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station. But they were finally voted down and told if they wanted to save lives, of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast. So they did. As the years went by the new station experienced the same changes that occurred in the old, it evolved into a club. And yet another lifesaving station was founded. History continued to repeat itself and if you visit the seacoast today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are frequent in those water but most of the people drown.

We live in a world where we are to make a difference. People are drowning all around us. As we pray tonight, I want you to think about your purpose. I want you to think about that new strategy of a life lived for others. And maybe life's closed in around you lately and that pity party goes strong every night. By God's grace, let's change the focus and look around at who needs help.

Heavenly Father, your plan for us is the best plan, we believe that, we say that, that's part of our statement of faith. We proclaim a trust in you. Your plan includes a public plan, you want us to live our lives in such a way as to be a blessing to people around us. You want our lives to be also influential of those who are close to us in our family. And I pray for fathers right now, those who are listening by radio or those in our own congregation, to raise the banner of responsibility and be all that you want them to be. And then Lord, I pray that we would be the ones that stand in the gap and prayerfully march forward to save the lives of the world around. 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
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8/17/2003
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The Glimmer of the Godly in a Cauldron of Crisis
Genesis 14
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
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9/14/2003
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Taking the Long Way Around
Genesis 16
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9/21/2003
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A New Start for an Old Soldier
Genesis 17:1-8
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9/28/2003
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When God Makes His Mark
Genesis 17:9-27
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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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10/19/2003
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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
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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
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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.