THE LORD, HE IS MY GOD
Dear Christian friends,
God has many attributes that make him God. Name one. Is it eternal, omnipresent, omniscience or omnipotence? Now name a characteristic that means the most to you. Giving it some thought, wouldn’t it be love?
In the religion of Islam, Allah has ninety nine attributes. Guess what! Love is not one of them. Many years ago I met a man who had to fleeIranwith his family. He was born and raised a Muslim. He said that this whole turmoil caused him to lose his faith in Allah. He said he didn’t lose the faith that God existed, he just knew Allah couldn’t be God because of the way Allah’s people treated each other. I had a most enjoyable Sunday afternoon showing him the God of Scripture.
Last Wednesday night in our study of Islam the question we studied was “Is Islam a religion of peace?” According to one scholar he found 130 passages that speak about things like putting to death the infidel, and fighting the infidel. Who are the infidels? Anyone who doesn’t follow Allah. That’s you and me! The Koran doesn’t say anything about winning over “the infidel” with love. Ali Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistanwho was himself a Muslim once said, “No religion is as oppressive as mine.”
As we have been joining Abraham on his road trip, I hope you have noticed how we see him living out his life for the Lord. Sometimes he is right on, but we have also seen him doing not so well. Today we get a glimpse of him as he makes a great confession of faith. There is no mistaking it – “The LORD, He is God.” 1) Make it know by demonstrating his love; 2) Make it know by standing up for him.
What does it mean to make God’s love known by demonstrating the love of God? Love is a word people love to use, but it means so many different things to so many different people. It would be interesting to know how many songs have been written on the topic of love. Country songs speak about unrequited love as the forlorn author of the song is riding in his railroad boxcar on the way to San Antone orAbilene. Certain rappers have written graphic words about physical love and should have their mouths washed out with soap.
There is a love that comes only from God. It is a pure love. We can try to imitate it but never duplicate it. He demonstrated that love and continues to demonstrate that love. His love is totally unselfish. “His love is demonstrated in this,” the Bible says, “that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” He gave his life into death to forgive the sin of putting him to death…and every other sin anyone has ever committed. That sounds so mixed up but it is absolutely true. He used the hatred of those who considered him their enemy to demonstrate perfect, unselfish love. We do things for people who love us and we are fairly glad to do it. But it is so tough to love those who would criticize and mock us. God didn’t have a problem. Jesus didn’t have a problem. Thank you, Jesus, so much!
That love affects us. We hear this statement a lot that elections have consequences. If someone is elected into office you can expect things to change and the elected one to advance his or her agenda. It seems to me that phrase, “elections have consequences” is used in a negative way. When, by the Spirit what Jesus makes sense to us, there are consequences too. They are not negative consequences. We see the blessing of loving and living like Jesus did. We try to imitate him. In fact the Bible says, “We love because he first loved us.”
That was so true of Abraham. Even though the fullness of God’s love revealed in Christ lay well in the future, Abraham knew God’s love and demonstrated it. How? He went to war because he loved his nephewLot. He went to war forLot’s king. That’s what a child of God will do in love.
Abraham would fight for the wicked cities ofSodomandGomorrah. Their sin was renown like it is withSan Franciscoand Midtown,Atlanta. Yet, Abraham didn’t turn his back on them. He battled the army of Kederlaomer. He trained his 318 men and made an alliance Aner, Eshkol and Mamre, whoever they were, and went to war against a world power.
Think about what the King ofSodomand the King of Gomorrah saw. They saw a man of extraordinary kindness and generosity going to war for them. He was willing to risk everything for them against, what seemed to be, impossible odds. They saw a courageous man, but more importantly, a man of faith who trusted implicitly in the LORD of free and faithful grace.
There are verses in Matthew 25 where Jesus spoke about Judgment Day. The Lord will divide the believers from the unbelievers - the believers on his right, the unbelievers on his left. He is going to speak to the believer and remind them of the faith they had that showed itself in love. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’” Then the believers will ask him, “When did we do that for Jesus? ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Now I want to make it clear that that our actions of feeding and giving drink and clothing people won’t get us to heaven, but they come because we are going to heaven. Jesus, and only Jesus, made that happen. Remember, we don’t love perfectly. It’s never selfless like Jesus. It is no way close to being perfect.
In the early years of my ministry, I went to visit a prisoner who had done unspeakable things. I went kicking and screaming to see him. It was a hot August day in a prison where there was no AC. The walls were blanketed with condensation. I met him in a holding cell. No air was circulating. I had a part of me that wanted him to rot. What gave me pleasure was that he would have to stay there but I could finally leave. How self-righteous I was! God’s Spirit stirred in me on my way home. I had to recognize that the same grace and mercy that forgave me from my unthinkably awful attitude toward this man was the same grace and mercy that saved him from this horrible sin. That grace of God so powerfully moves God’s people to show love like Abraham was moved to show love – even to people who are so far away from God or when we live and love imperfectly.
After Abraham had defeated Kederlaomer he returned and came to theValleyofShaveh. He was met by two men – Melchizedek, the King ofSalemand Priest to the Most High God and the King of Sodom. We talked about Melchizedek last Sunday. They really hit it off. Melchizedek showed how much he appreciated Abraham’s efforts. He fed the troops, but there was more. They had a special fellowship. They worshipped the LORD. Melchizedek and Abraham worshipped together and Melchizedek thanked and praised the Lord for his protection of Abraham. Abraham made an offering of a tithe of all that he owned. It is really something special when God’s people gather.
The second person that Abraham met was the King of Sodom whose keester Abraham saved. The King of Sodom did not offer a prayer of thanks. “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.”
I read an article this week about a military chaplain writing an essay based on the phrase that came out of World War I, “there are no atheists in foxholes.” The point is that when your life is being threatened and the feeling of one’s mortality sets in, people tend to think about, people ought to think about God and what comes next.
The King of Sodom was in the foxhole, but the King of Sodom had his life given back to him by Abraham. Abraham made it very clear to the king that his brilliant decision and strategy made this happen, all was a gift from God. The Lord sent King Kederlaomer packing. While the King of Sodom didn’t see it that way, Abraham reminded him.
The king wanted to get on his way. All he wanted to have back were his gay friends and citizens. Abraham could keep all the stuff. Abraham didn’t allow that happen. “But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshkol and Mamre. Let them have their share.”
Abraham couldn’t speak for Aner, Eshkol and Mamre, the men he had allied himself with to fight against Kederlaomer, but he was speaking for himself. Keep your stuff, King of Sodom, I have the LORD. The LORD loves me and I serve the LORD. Underneath it all, don’t you think that the king was getting the hint to do the same?
We live at a time when people like to think that all religions are the same. We live at a time when many are deserting the faith. More than ever we are called upon to make a confession like Abraham. He took an oath to show how sincere he was about this. King, your money doesn’t mean anything to me. My God does! My Lord does! He is the Creator of heaven and earth. He takes care of all my needs.
Jesus once said, “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” Another occasion he said, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” To deny our God is a grievous sin. To put him in a category that he is only as good as any other god is heinous. No our God is real. Our God saves. So confess the LORD, he is God. Demonstrate it through the love you show; show it by standing up for him.