Tuesday, July 30, 2013

From the Head to the Heart

"He [Jesus] replied, 'My mother and brothers are those who hear God's Word 
and put it into practice.'" Luke 8:21

So often the tendency is to read or hear the truths of God's Word, think it sounds like a good idea, but walk away and fail to apply it. God doesn't want us to take in His Word to store up as head knowledge. Even the enemy knows scripture. No, God's deep desire is that we apply it to our lives.

     apply uh-plahy -verb

     1. To make use of as relevant; suitable or pertinent.
     2. To put to use, especially for a particular purpose.
     3. To bring into action; use; employ.
     4. To devote or employ diligently or with close attention.
     5. To place in contact with; lay or spread on.
     6. To attach to, to devote oneself to.

Those that the Lord considers close, like family, are those that understand His Word is something to devote themselves to. They spread it over areas of their lives that didn't previously line up with God's Word. They are said to put it into practice. Faithful followers of Christ are not just hearers of the Word, but doers of the work. Knowledge gained makes it from the head to the heart.

I must regularly examine my life, especially as I read God's Word. When read His directives in the scriptures it should prompt me to consider my ways and ask, "Does my life line up with the Word?" If it doesn't, I should immediately repent, be intentional about turning myself in a new direction, and put God's Word into practice. Anything less would be sin on my part because the Bible says to be doers of the Word, not hearers only. In so doing, one's life - if not lined up with scripture - should radically change and look more and more like Christ sooner, rather than later. 

Father God, I pray You would continue to show me Your ways through Your Word, and give me a willing spirit as I apply Your truths to my life. Bring about radical change in any areas where I am "off" I pray. I want to walk close to You. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Too Heavy to Bear

"My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear."
Psalm 38:4

Sin is a burden, plain and simple. It equals weight in our lives. It keeps the believer from pressing forward or soaring upward until his or her heart has been pricked by the Father for it, and it's brought into the light and properly dealt with. 

The heavy load of sin takes a toll on the body...

sapping it of strength;
"my bones have no soundness because of my sin" (v. 3)

the stress of it can lead to depression;
"I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning" (v. 6)

it can produce unexplained aches and pains, even disease;
"my back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body" (v. 7)

it might bring on anxiety;
"my heart pounds, my strength fails me" (v. 10)

sin can cause the light in our eyes to grow dim;
"...even the light has gone from my eyes" (v. 10)

it can lead to loss of friendships.
"My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds." (Psalm 38:11)

Sin can also lead to denial, rebellion and anger that gradually seeps into all areas of life. So what is the cure? It's repentance that leads to forgiveness that leads to a change of heart and direction. In genuine repentance, no excuse is made for sin because it is "the goodness of God" that leads each one of us to repentance. (Romans 2:4)  We must have a heart willing to turn from those things that abhor the One that loves us so; turning away from anything that grieves Him in any way. Children used to sing an old hymn that said,

     "Repentance is to leave
          the sins we loved before,
       And show that we in earnest grieve,
          by doing so no more."

Charles Spurgeon speaks to it this way, "Repentance is a discovery of the evil of sin, a mourning that we have committed it, a resolution to forsake it. It is, in fact, a change of mind of a very deep and practical character, which makes the man love what he once hated, and hat what he once loved." 

So when God pricks our hearts to turn from our sin, we lay it down by seeking forgiveness. We ask for our Father's forgiveness, and then we forgive ourselves. Forgiveness that gets to the emotional core I have found to be the most complete. If it doesn't strike us at the core of who we are, we may not truly be grieved enough to turn away...permanently. Turning away in obedience to God stems from a heart change. "Regeneration is the implanting of a new nature..." (Spurgeon)

Father God, I thank You for this reminder of the burden of sin and the freedom found in repentance and forgiveness. Help me Jesus as I strive to live my life with clean hands and a pure heart toward You. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Nothing to Hide

"For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open." Luke 8:17

This is the parable of the lighted lamp. God's Word says that no one lights a lamp only to cover it up. No, they light it and put it on a stand so those that come in can see the light. It is meant to pierce the darkness. Nothing is hidden when the light shines forth.

So it is with believers. We are meant to be the light in a dark world. Matthew Henry says, "Ministers that have the dispensing of the gospel committed to them, people that have profited by the Word and are thereby qualified to profit others, must look upon themselves as lighted candles...for a candle must not be covered with a vessel nor put under a bed (v. 16)." If we as believers daily spend time in the Word, and we apply it to our present lives, we are then "qualified to profit others". As I take in nuggets of truth for myself, I then have truth to draw upon to encourage others as well. I'm able to build others up, not with shallow words or worldly wisdom, but with truth.

Because the light pierces the darkness and God's Word says "there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed," I must be careful to consistently apply His Word to my life. My light is meant to shine before man, therefore I am called to not only be good, but to do good. Our sins will find us out. In fact this is a prayer I often pray over my own family, that our sins would find us out; that we might walk blameless before God. Better to live honest and open. It is best to live with nothing to hide!

The same holds true for gifts and talents, according to this parable. God did not bless us with abilities to have them hidden, but to manifest them in us and have them made known. They are to be made use of for the glory of God, or they may be taken away. Verse 18 says whoever has "gifts, and does good with them, shall have more; but he that buries his talent shall lose it." (Henry) The NIV says it "will be taken from him." (Maybe that's where the "use it or lose it" catch phrase came from.) I want to use my gifts for God's glory, to the best of my ability.

Thank You Father, that You are the Light of the world, and Your light is in me. Help me Lord to shine before man and share the truths that You teach me in such a way as to profit others. Help me to use my gifts and talents for Your glory. I love You Lord, and want my life to be fragrant with You. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Watching My Step

"If the LORD delights in a man's way, He makes his steps firm;
though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with His hand." 
Psalm 37:23-24

God orders the steps of a good man both by His Word, and in the whispers of his conscience; that still, small voice that says, "This is the way, walk in it." In those moments, when I turn away from the desires of my flesh and go where He leads me, it brings my LORD delight, and He responds by making my steps firm, as on level ground. He is pleased when I heed His guidance.

If a good man is overtaken by fault, the grace of God is able to rescue and restore him through the process of repentance. Though he may feel shame or embarrassment, and his spirit may be downcast for a time, the LORD upholds him with His righteous right hand. He is able to bring him back to the joy of his salvation. He will not be destroyed.

The watchful eye of the LORD is upon me, watching my every step. He sees me when I choose the path of life, and smiles. He sees me when I falter. The New King James Version words verse 23 this way, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way." It is most pleasing to God when I consult Him on each decision I make. Quite frankly, I find that easier to do on the big decisions. It's the seemingly small ones where I falter. Like today's dilemma... whether I should spend money on a new top to wear for an event next week, or put that few dollars toward an unpaid medical bill. I try to justify what my flesh wants, but deep down I know the honorable thing to do, as much as I don't prefer it. It is in these little everyday decisions that I must really examine my choices. Proverbs 4:26 instructs, "Ponder the path of your feet, then all your ways will be sure." (Sounds like a verse I need to post on my bathroom mirror!) When I yield my decisions big and small to the Lord, He directs my steps in the way that brings Him the most honor and glory. Today for me that means, put money towards the bill and forego the shopping trip...

Father God, Your ways are perfect. If I want to walk blameless, I must strive to yield every area of my life to You, and bring every decision to be made under the umbrella of Your will. You have always been an "if/then" God. If I will commit my ways to You, then You promise to make my steps firm. Today I choose to steer clear of the clothing store and rest in You. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Second Chances

"When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Him and said, 'I am God Almighty; walk before Me and be blameless...'" Genesis 17:1

Shortly after Abram's faith was credited to him as righteousness, he discredited himself by trying to accomplish God's will in his own strength. Instead of waiting on God to fulfill His promise of a son, he and Sarai took matters into their own hands and fell into sin. Abram took Hagar as a second wife (polygamy was never God's plan) and she bore him Ishmael, the wild son. 

After Ishmael's birth, nothing is recorded. So far as we can gather from scripture, there were no brave acts of faith or noble deeds that following this sin. We do not find record of Abram doing anything significant, or having an audience with the LORD. Not until now, thirteen years later. It is here that God Almighty appears to Abram again. His purpose is to call him to obedience saying, "walk before me and be blameless." In so doing, "the LORD would bring [Abram] out of his state of distrust and distance into one of dignity and sanctity" by manifesting Himself to him. (Spurgeon)

God is a God of second chances. It's as if He was saying to Abram, "Let's try this again. Starting today, remembering that I see all things, I want you to strive for perfection. I am calling you to live your life in exemplary fashion, with impeccable integrity, with clean hands and a pure heart, untarnished and above reproach. Then, I will grant you increase." In His instruction, God was consecrating Abram to Himself; He was setting Abram apart for His purposes.

This command would have required Abram to have much trust in the LORD. Those of little trust usually have little obedience. "If we have grand conceptions of the glory of God, we shall learn to confide in Him most thoroughly, we shall receive mercies from Him most plentifully, and we shall be moved to serve Him most consistently. Sin at the bottom of it very frequently has origin in low thoughts of God." (Spurgeon) Abram's sin was just such an example. He could not fathom how God would fulfill His promise to bless he and Sarai with a son at her age and in her barrenness. So in lack of trust he sinned with Hagar. He seemed to forget who God was. That He is God Almighty, El Shaddai, the all sufficient One. Had he remembered and trusted, he would have stayed true to his wife and waited patiently with hope for the fulfillment of His promise. 

So God appears to Abram once again, this time calling him to a deeper level of trust. He is calling him to pursue true holiness. To consider God in all his actions, public and private. To not leave Him out of any equation, but instead sense His presence, seek His counsel, and serve His purposes only.

Living a sanctified or consecrated life is a high calling, but most pleasing to the One who paid a high price for my freedom and salvation. I too am called to pursue holiness; to walk blameless before the LORD. In order to do so, I must have a high view of God and offer Him my highest level of trust. It has been said, "The saint feels that he must not, dare not, transgress, because he is before the very face of God. This is the model of the sanctified character, for a man to realize what the Lord is, and then to act as in the immediate presence of a holy and jealous God." (Spurgeon)

The standard is perfection, because anything less would leave room for excuse. We are not told to be as good as we can be, for there would be room for error. We are called to be perfect (blameless), even as our Father in heaven is perfect...

"This God--His way is perfect." 2 Samuel 22:31, Psalm 18:30
"The law of the LORD is perfect..." Psalm 19:7
"You therefore must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48
" Jesus said to him, 'If you would be perfect, go sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.'" Matthew 19:21

No one but Jesus has ever attained perfection, but it is the standard nonetheless, that every believer should strive for. Paul aspired to it in Philippians: "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own." God does not water it down due to our weakness. He calls us to rise above our flesh and weaknesses with sincerity and live to a higher standard, striving toward perfection.

Father God, I know I can never be perfect, but perfect is the standard I should aspire to. Forgive me Lord for the times my faith and trust have been lacking. God, I want to have a grand view of You! I want to believe that every thing You will in my life is possible. I need to trust You more. In Jesus' name, amen.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Forever Grateful

I had just moved from Daytona Beach to Brandon a fews days prior. Starting over in a new city, I went to the church my parents were attending that first Sunday. I figured it would be a good place to meet "good" people. As a 19 year old guest, I was taken to the college and young singles class. Afterwards, I was invited to join the group the very next weekend at a beach retreat. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I went! There on North Reddington Beach, I made some new, life-long friends. I believe they realized pretty quickly that I was not a believer, but they took me in and made me feel so welcomed and encouraged. I also believe some started praying for me immediately. I noticed something different about these new friends. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I wanted it!

We returned from the beach and that Monday night would be the start of a revival in Plant City. Some of my new friends were going and invited me. My social calendar was clear at this point, so even though I didn't really know what a revival was, I went. I sat with Valerie, a girl I'd met at the beach. We listened to a sermon from the bleachers on a football field that summer night.

The pastor was preaching on the wheat and the tears. He explained the difference between the two: the wheat contained seed, and the tears did not. He likened that to believers and non-believers. I quickly understood enough to know that the "seed" I recognized in these friends was Jesus, and I was the one without. I wanted Jesus too! The pastor closed in prayer, asking God not to let anyone leave that needed Him. I felt my knees turn to Jell-O and conviction overcame me. Valerie noticed. She took me by the hand and walked with me to the football field. We knelt at a brown metal folding chair and I asked Jesus into my life. That was twenty-five years ago today.

In those twenty-five years my God has given me a firm place to stand, revealed my brokenness, rescued me, healed me, restored me, and set me free. I am forever grateful for my friend Valerie's obedience to the gospel, and for reaching out to befriend me - the new girl - all those years ago. As God would have it, we are still in touch. We attend the same church (a different one from where we met) and are in the same Bible Fellowship class. Her oldest daughter now spends time in Bible study at my house as part of our church's college ministry. How special that is! So tonight Lord-willing, my friend Valerie and I will celebrate and eat cake, and reflect on God's goodness over the years. For her friendship and the gift of salvation, I am forever grateful.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Good Soil

"...the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word,
retain it, and by persevering produce a crop." Luke 8:15

This is the parable of the sower and the soil. Here, Jesus is speaking to a large crowd about the seed and what comes of it as it lands on different types of ground. When His disciples ask Him to explain the meaning, He shares that the "seed" represents the Word of God. Where it falls determines whether it will grow. If it falls along the path with no place to take root, the enemy carries it away and the hearer does not believe. If it falls on the rocks, the hearer may receive it with joy but it doesn't take root; in the time of testing they quickly fall away. If it falls among thorns, it may take root but life's troubles and worries choke it out and it fails to grown and mature. But if the seed falls on good soil, the hearer receives it in his heart, applies it to his life, and perseveres in a way that produces a crop. 

persevere [pur - s uh - veer] verb
to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficult,
obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly

The key is to not only be a hearer of the Word only, but a doer. James 1:22 says, "Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." I cannot just hear the Word and survey the scriptures and expect it to change me. I must apply it to my life and to my sin. Though hearts may be touched or moved by the Word, they are not changed by hearing alone...hearts are changed in the doing of what it says. Consistent, persistent, steadfast doing is what then produces a crop.

Father God, help me as I strive to consistently apply Your Word to my heart and my mind. Change me as I apply it so that my actions line up with Your Word. I want my life to be a reflection of You, a reflection of the gospel, and to produce a crop. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Misery Acknowledged

[An angel of the LORD to Hagar]  
"...the LORD has heard of your misery." Genesis 16:11c

[Hagar to the LORD]
"'...You are the God who sees me,' for she said, 'I have now seen the One who sees me.'" 
Genesis 16:13

Hagar, having been used by Sarai to bear a child in her barrenness, and then mistreated while pregnant, runs away miserable. Before long, she is met with an angel of the LORD who listens to her story and gives her clear instruction. He tells her to "go back" to her mistress Sarai and submit to her. At the same time, he gives her a promise of "increase" -- that she will have descendants too numerous to count. 

During this encounter, the angel of the LORD acknowledged her misery. Nothing is hidden from God's sight! Her cry of affliction was heard, for "tears speak as well as prayers." (Henry)

With grateful reflection, Hagar acknowledges the LORD and His goodness. There, she turns the well where the encounter took place into a memorial; a place to remember where the LORD cared for her in a time of distress. The God that sees all, saw her. The memorial was a reminder. The God that sees all, sees me too. May I never forget!

Is anything causing me distress today? Am I running away from any circumstances where I should be staying and submitting and crying out to the Lord, instead of putting my running shoes on? Though the answer may not be immediate, I must not forget that my God sees me and He hears my cries. He is my Vindicator and in His time, He will make things right. May I find rest and peace in that...

God, I know You see me. In joy, in despair, in misery...You see me. And Your grace is upon me. May this knowledge ever keep me far from sin and close to You, eager to do Your will. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Living Grateful

"...the Twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been cured of 
evil spirits and diseases..." Luke 8:1-2

As He went from town to town, Jesus kept company with the twelve disciples. During His ministry on earth, they did life together as they went about sharing the gospel, healing the sick, and ministering to the down and out. Not only did the Twelve travel with Him, so did some women. Women whom Jesus had delivered or healed. Mary Magdalene was with Him after He drove seven demons out of her. Grateful for His mercy, she became a zealous disciple of Christ. Also with Him were Joanna, Susanna, and many others who served Jesus out of dedication and indebtedness. Jesus rescued and restored them from various ailments and in return, they ministered to Him out of their own means. With great humility, Jesus and the Twelve accepted the support of His friends to sustain them as they went about preaching and teaching. Though He was rich, "He became poor" for our sakes and He lived on the kindness and generosity of others.

These women who were healed, both body and soul, had been "patients" (so to speak) of the Great Physician, Jesus. As a result of being healed by Him, they considered what they could do to bless Him. These women of gratitude lived their lives as a thank offering to Him. They attended to His needs, kept Him well fed, and followed Him faithfully. 

Jesus my Savior, was my Great Physician too...and my Rescuer, Redeemer, Restorer. He has been so faithful to me! So I consider...

How am I living my life as a thank offering? (Am I?)
What am I doing to bless His name?

Father, I want my life to be an offering of gratitude to You. Show me how to bless Your name... In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Believing is a Choice

"Abram believed the LORD, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Genesis 15:6

Abram was conversing with the LORD about who would get his inheritance since he didn't have any children. He figured he would have to leave everything to one of his servants. But the LORD responded, "This man [one of your servants] will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir." (v. 4) Abram was promised that his offspring would be too numerous to count. So he took the LORD at His Word and believed Him. 

Take note, Abram didn't merely believe in Him - even the demons do that (James 2:19). Abram believed the words He spoke. He believed the LORD's promise made to him. This trust in the LORD was what He credited to Abram's account as righteousness.

This causes me to ponder my own life... Are there promises I'm questioning? Do I let my circumstances, my inability to see what God is doing behind the scenes, cloud my view and cause me to question His promise-keeping abilities? Or I do stand firm in all things, taking God at His Word, believing Him no matter how things look? Believing Him starts with knowing His Word and what He promises in the first place. 

I save myself some worry and anxious thoughts when I choose to take God at His Word versus believe the lies the enemy tries to plant in my head. When the lies surface, those things contrary to God's Word, I can choose to entertain them and live in fear or doubt, or choose to take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5) and replace them with the truth of God's Word...His promises. Believing is a choice - an act of the will. I choose to believe God.

Father God, I have come to understand that freedom from worry, freedom from anxiety, freedom from sin is found in wholeheartedly believing You. Help me to take my thoughts captive and trust Your every Word. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Overflow of Faith

"Jesus said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'" Luke 7:50

This woman, who was a sinner, came to Jesus with such love, conviction and humility. She cried tears of sorrow over her own sin at His feet and wiped them with her hair. She stooped low in humility and did not stop kissing Jesus' feet. With gratitude she she poured out perfume on them. She had much to be forgiven for - for her sins were many - and out of her remorse and gratitude she showed much love. So Jesus said to her, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." Such an effective and definitive Word from the Lord surely kept her far from committing such sins again!

As Jesus points out His observations about this woman of faith to Simon, He uses them in sharp contrast to all the things he had not done. Simon had not brought him water to wash His feet, he had not greeted Him with a kiss, and had not put oil on His head when He arrived. All these things represented love and gratitude expressed by this woman and were an overflow of the faith she placed in Him. "Therefore," He said, "I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven - for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." (v. 47)

It would seem as though Simon had been outdone by this woman. Not because her works saved her, but because they were evidence of, an outpouring of - the overflow of - her great faith. Her faith drove her to tears and humility, and she pressed on with her show of love regardless of mockers. Her faith cost her something, as she poured her perfume on His feet. So it might be said, "The reason why some people blame the pains and expense of zealous Christians, in religion, is because they are not willing themselves to come up to it, but resolve to rest in cheap and easy faith." (Henry)

Father God, I don't want to settle for - or be known for - cheap and easy faith. Make me zealous for You oh Lord! I pray my love and gratitude for all You've done for me spills over with extravagance and produces a passionate devotion to You. And I pray that passion drives me further and further from sin and closer to You; to be more and more committed to the work You have for me to do. Thank You for saving me! In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Pursuing Peace

"Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it."
Psalm 34:14

Psalm 34 is full of practical instruction and verse 14 is just one such piece of advice. It instructs me to turn from evil, to depart from it, steer clear of it, deviate from it. I must set a conscious distance between myself and those things that tempt me to sin, and cut them off when necessary! I am called to "do good; seek peace and pursue it".

When the enemy comes knocking with any form of temptation, I should consider that my que to find something good and pleasing to the Lord to do in that moment instead. I must make a conscious choice to turn from that evil thing and turn to the work of the Lord instead. Very practically, if my tongue is the sin instrument tempting me to think and say things I shouldn't, I must train myself to bite my tongue (literally when necessary!) and take such thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), replacing them with the truth of God's Word. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 says, "encourage one another and build each other up". So for instance, instead of saying that thing the Spirit is prompting me not to, I can ask the Lord's forgiveness for the thought and replace it with a word of encouragement to, or about someone, instead. This would be pleasing to God and in accordance with His Word.

I am also instructed to "seek peace and pursue it". In this crazy, busy world full of distractions, it is something I must be intentional about. Peace, stillness, quietness before the Lord...these are things that refresh and renew my spirit now, but once upon a time I was carrying so much sin and brokenness that the quiet was something I avoided. I constantly filled my time with busyness to steer clear of that which the Lord wanted and needed to heal in me. Healing that would bring peace. What I didn't realize was that the strife and bitterness were actually corroding my heart and robbing me of the peace He wanted to give, and something I desperately needed. 

Once He delivered me from the sin and the pain of the past, I found I began to thrive on quiet! I was no longer afraid to be still before the Lord. That peace in my heart, peace with God, peace with my past, peace with myself, make for a peaceful life. And it creates in me a desire to "pursue it" like a river that waters my soul. 

When I'm lacking in peace now, the first thing to do is check for sin. I might be falling into temptation in some area, or I might have too little quiet time with God and need to pull back on my schedule to be more intentional about seeking peace and spending time with Him.

Charles Spurgeon says of verse 14, "True happiness is found in true holiness. The only way to keep out the evil is to fill the soul full of good. We must be active in the cause of God, or Satan will soon lead us to sin."

Father God, thank You for Your Word that is full of practical instruction for living a life that is pleasing to You. Help me Father, to pursue holiness in every aspect of my life, with every part of my body, and chase after peace. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Be Careful Where You Pitch Your Tent!

"Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of Jordan was well watered like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt...so Lot chose for himself the whole plain of Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company...and [Lot] pitched his tents near Sodom." Genesis 13:10-11, 12b

As Abram parted ways with Lot he gave him a choice as to whether he wanted to settle in the east or the west (Abram would settle in the opposite place). As he looked his options over he saw how fruitful Jordan was and noticed the barrenness of Canaan. He decided to go east, making his choice based on wealth and pleasures. Lot, a prophet and a righteous man, probably thought the people of Sodom who were known to be wicked and greatly sinning against the LORD, would listen to him and repent of their ways. The LORD, not being willing that any should perish sends preachers to warn before sending destruction. Lot probably thought that living among them was the best way to reach them, but "sensual choices are sinful choices" and rarely bode well. (Henry) 

Lot's choice, which may have been made in part because of his grief over the wicked state of the Sodomites, led him to grievous situations himself. They molested and persecuted him because he would not do as they did. Shame and grief often becomes the troublesome fate of good men who choose to live among wicked neighbors; it is unfortunately brought upon themselves for making an unadvised choice.

According to Genesis, it is one thing to pass through a wicked place and preach the gospel. It is entirely different to set up house in the midst of it and expect not to be impacted in some way. What a great risk we take in pitching our tents in places where people are sinning  greatly against the LORD. Yes, we live in a sinful world, with sinners all around us, but we don't have to live in the worst part of town among the depraved to be a light. God's Word says, "Bad company corrupts good character." (1 Corinthians 15:33)

Jesus lived among the disciples and did life with them and they sojourned through some dark, hard places to share the good news. Keeping good, godly company while carrying out the great commission therefore should build honorable, principled and upright character in me. I must be diligent in doing both parts however - not just keeping good, godly company and being comfortable, but choosing good, godly company with friends who have a heart and passion for sharing and living out the gospel message, so we can spur one another on to love and good deeds.

Father God, In longing to be more like You, this is one of the things You have been working into my heart lately, a greater desire to be a true disciple: one who makes disciples who make disciples. Help me to choose my company wisely and walk closely with those who share the same passion so we can spur one another on in You. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.