Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Cities on the Plain
Genesis 13:7-13
By Rev. Tom Tuura
Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church

And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock...10 And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. 11 Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east...Lot pitched his tent even as far as Sodom. 13 But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord.
We learned early on the three enemies of our souls, the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh. From one standpoint three different sources of temptation. As far as the third enemy our own “flesh” or sinful nature (Rom 8:5-7), it seems that people walk around giving the impression that they don't have any struggles with the flesh or the world, or at least it sure seems that way. Blame it all on the devil is certainly easier. The Scripture is absolutely correct when it speaks of all mankind, “There is no one who does good not even one.” (Rom 3:12). In the case of the Christian and baptized child then, they have a new nature but also an “old nature” which susceptible to temptation, (Rom 6:1-4). Temptation is not sin for even Jesus was tempted.
The struggles are real. Even Christians of all ages are caught up in the tangled webs of today's unique digital environment. Many parts of it are good, like the interstate highways, which carry legitimate goods and services. But for more and more, it's a secret cauldron of evil that seems to possess them after giving in to the constant temptations of the lower impulses. And today it captures the children more than ever before, who are even less prepared to deal with these powerful temptations. But once a child gives in, it quickly exhausts them, leaving emptiness, isolated from the rest of the flock, and insulated from the God's joy and peace. The shame and secrecy, then slam the prison door behind them. There is good news. Even though it doesn't seem like it, there is a path to victory. There is hope!
I want to talk about the changing landscape that has made this problem the crisis it is today. We'll never know what motivated Lot to move east but he did. And one cannot rule out the interest in the bright lights of these cities on the plain. Of course they were well watered (Gen 13:10). We could say it was a “business decision”. The new landscape of the cities might have been great for business, but proved to be a disaster for his family.
We may not realize that as Lot's situation changed, ours has too; almost all of the landscape surrounding us has changed, just like the cities on the plain. In less than one generation we lost what I'll call the barriers to many sins of the flesh. In the past, if you dared to indulge, you had to physically go to known establishments where that sort of thing was available. Good or bad, that alone kept a certain portion, maybe most people out of trouble. It was the fear of being seen in “public”. It used to be called the “red light district” or a similar locality. This the Bible calls the influence of the “world”.
Under the old landscape, the home was sanctuary of goodness, or at least could be. The world's influence could be kept at bay—somewhat. There's indication in Genesis that Lot initially located “outside” the city creating speculation that he recognized the risk and was trying to keep his distance. (Gen 13:12)
Our old Adam, (and Eve) could still create plenty of mayhem. And it did. There were a few homes that were not sanctuaries, but caldrons of blackness, homes influenced by the bottle. There were homes with secrets too, just as today. Yet there were many more good homes. Homes with love and where people worked hard and kept busy doing good honorable things, and the worst thing was a deck of cards.
As time passed, there were repeated attempts by this influence to gain entry. It succeeded by arriving in a box. Even then, within this box were sights and sounds that for the most part were good and educational, but also sights and sounds that definitely weren't. The landscape begins to shift ever so slightly.
Then, just as Lot found himself living within the city, Genesis 14:12, one “box” turned to many, like the interstate highway system that carries goods and services across the country, as well as our families to grandma's house, it also transports filth into the very corners of our most private places.
So no longer do those who dare to indulge in their earthly desires have to risk travel to a place of ill repute, but can merely touch the box. And touching that box they/we do now in secret.
Further, even in the old red light districts there were limits, hours of operation, personnel that were needed, as well as Law enforcement, and city ordinances. No more. There is no end, no limit to the evil.
A third change is that in the old system, less than a generation ago, the attempt was made to prevent entry to those under age. It wasn't full proof. But the attempt was made. A feeble effort now is attempted. But there is no real effective barrier to prevent the under age from exposure to the darkest, and vilest things. In fact by some it is encouraged. No one under the age of 20 was even alive to see the barriers of the old landscape. The “red light” district mother warned about is everywhere.
Fourthly, one had to venture out in “public” to participate, or purchase this, now it reigns in secrecy, truly enslaving young and old. But there is power in the name of Jesus.
Some of the darkest, most vile things are being redefined, in the name of progress. They are now encouraged to be taught to the under age through the now tiny box. Now in a hellish trifecta, the devil the world and the flesh team up together in these devices and capture the hearts and minds of young and old.
They insulate and isolate the hearts and minds of the viewers dulling even the deepest spiritual hunger. If he can't make a casualty, a spiritual cripple is just as good.
But there is power in the blood. There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain. And the first thing is to expose this darkness to light. The solution is simple. Satan hates the Light of the World. So here's 5 things we all must do.
Exposure to light. Talk about it. Particularly to the vulnerable. Secret battles are losing battles.
Repentance, and packaging the problem. It doesn't define you. It had a beginning and it has an ending. I John 1:9, Jesus forgives and cleanses .
Understanding the evil trifecta, and trusting God's loving powerful hand of deliverance, (I John 2:15-17) Understanding the forces at work, including our own evil desires, (Romans 8:1-15)
Its a warfare for the soul, not an individual's failure. You're not alone. (Eph 6:10-18; 1 Cor. 10:13)
Flight The Bible says “Flee youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22)
Like I said in a sermon years ago on Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah, “It doesn't matter if you go to Sodom, or if Sodom comes to you, the result is the same.” It appears Sodom has come to us. We must shine the light brightly to win the victory and open the prison doors.

That’s my view from the Blackberry Patch Pulpit
Pastor Tom

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