Two Sundays

This is very much not my usual style of blog-posting, but I ended up having at least three different conversations last week in which I drew from my notes on that Sunday’s sermon at Sojourn, so I thought I would share them here in case they had a word for anyone else. Since I didn’t actually get around to posting them last week, what with the huge batch of blogging I did, I’m also including notes from this week as well.

Sojourn’s pastor, David Thew, has been working through Genesis for the last couple of months, in what has been an interesting series. Some weeks are very clear-cut stories, with obvious application — Noah, or the Tower of Babel. Other weeks we spend a huge chunk of time on genealogies, and it’s interesting to see what comes out of those.

Last week was on Genesis 13, Abram and Lot dividing up their land. The theme, though, David said, was “What do you do when you screw up royally? … Is there forgiveness, is there hope, is there redemption?”

The sermon picked up in the wake of the one from the week before, which I missed, about Abram in Egypt, in which he had allowed Pharoah to take his (Abram’s) wife Sarai as his (Pharoah’s) own. On a side note, I’ve been meaning to look up my notes from discussing this same chapter in Life Group at Whitesburg over a year ago — I remember there was discussion about whether others can have to pay a price for our sin. I don’t remember exactly what was said about it, but I think my thoughts on the matter have evolved during that time.

David told some of his personal story, about being rebellious as a teenager, and how he would attend revival services and be convicted and pledge to get his life back in order, only to revert back again. Finally, on a trip to the Holy Land, he felt that sort of conviction again, but believed that it was better not to even try; that he was making a mockery of God by making these pledges that he couldn’t keep. He said he recalls praying, “God, I really don’t want to screw it up again. I think I’d rather be a rebel than make a mockery of your name again.” Things changed, though, when he talked to one of the leaders about it, who told him, “Don’t put too much emphasis on your failure. Don’t let your failure be bigger than God — even your future failure.”

Of Abram and Sarai post-Egypt, David said taht you you violate your spouse, trust is shattered. The only thing that can restore it is unconditional love, agape love.

He went on to say that Satan knows when you are fighting, and will use it, and that you have to be repentent in that situation. “If you are separated, you will be destroyed. … You have to know who the real enemy is; you have to reject shooting your own team.”

The enemy knows where our weakness are — demons have been taking notes on you your entire life, “and their system has never crashed.”

David focused in particular on Genesis 13:9, in which Abram and Lot divide the land. Abram tells Lot, “Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.” In context, David said, it’s easy to read this as frustration on Abram’s part. He’s tired of conflict with his nephew Lot, and just wants it done. He doesn’t care if Lot takes the better land; he just wants it resolved. Instead, David said he believes that Abram here is driven by a confidence so strong it looks like apathy. He knows the land God has promised him, and is willing to offer it to Lot because he knows that he doesn’t have to make God’s promise happen, that God will do it. “When you know you don’t have to force it to make it happen, you can do that.”

He also noted that it can be overwhelming to try to live in those promises, to walk the path we know is right, and that when that happens, you have to scale back. It’s easy to look at where we are supposed to be, and feel like there’s no way we can get there. “You can say, I don’t think I can make it to the destination. Ok, just trust God for the next step.”

This past Sunday picked up where that left off, but first, a brief detour into 1 Peter 1 — “he has given us new birth into a living hope … though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine … you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”

Genesis 14 read at first a little more like one of the genealogy passages — lists of which king in which city was allied with which other kings and at war with which other kings, but, long story short, they were, and badda bing badda boom, Lot gets captured, so Abram goes and saves him. Per David, the chapter shows Abram the rescuer as a future glimpse of Jesus the rescuer.

I thought this part was interesting — David was talking about verse 10: “Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills.” He noted that if you’re fighting an enemy on your home turf, and there are tar pits there, that should be the sort of thing that works in your advantage, that you can use against your enemy, instead of falling into them yourself. “It’s a huge problem if you don’t know where your own tar pits are.” Makes me wonder to what extent I know where my tar pits are, and to what extent I allow the enemy to rout me into them.

Another aside — “Christians are absolutely supposed to be in the middle of the most wicked cities in the world,” but we’re not supposed to become one with that wickedness.

Notes that I can’t reconstruct the context for, so am offering basically as I wrote them, which was largely for me: “Some of you have lost the ability to dream anymore … Some of you have no trouble with dreaming, you have a problem putting your feet on the ground” and need to move from dreamer to visionary. “Some of you have no street smarts, and you let people walk all over you.” These people are “gentle as doves” and need people to help them not be walked over, which sometimes means telling someone “I love you too much to continue to let you bring destruction into my life.”

Regarding Abram as foreshadowing Christ, David said, “Abram risked everything, and lost nothing; Jesus risked nothing, but gave everything.”

Just because Christ gave everything to free us, we don’t always walk in that. “We pay tribute to a dead god — self.” We also allow ourselves to continue to walk either in sin or the condemnation of the past. “Though we have been freed, we walk back into that jail cell — Don’t believe the lie anymore that you’re chained.”

(I made a personal note during communion — the body makes us worthy of the blood — the price paid before the cleansing.)

My notes end with lyrics from one of the songs we closed with (and which I ended up buying on my iPhone before I even left the service):

“And when all else fades,
My soul will dance with You,
Where the love lasts forever.”