Summary: This Sermon contrasts the spiritual choices made by Lot, whose family was destroyed and Abraham. A serious Father’s Day message.
On this Father’s Day, and as we continue our series called "A Series of Unfortunate Behaviors", I want us to take a look, as it relates especially to fathers – who are the God ordained heads of their households – to look at the subject of Spiritual Complacency." And I want this to be a message that will be uplifting to us, but as well, to challenge us in carrying out the role that God has called us to. Let’s pray:
Lord God our Father, on this Father’s Day, as we come together to thank you for those special men who are the fathers of the homes represented here this morning, bless us now as we open your Word to us. Help us to learn and receive direction concerning our spiritual leadership in our families. You’ve given us your Word so that we might learn and grow in it. May we learn from the mistakes of Lot and be encouraged by the example of Abraham to make changes in our personal lives so that our families might not be destroyed, but built up and strengthened through the Good Word and the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ. In His name we pray. Amen.
I’d like us to begin by looking at Genesis 13 in order to get the context for chapter 19 – which is our text today. Here, Abram and Lot are about to go their separate ways. They begin having a disagreement and so they divide up their flocks and Abram speaks in verse 9 and says: "I’ll tell you what we’ll do. Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate. If you want that area over there, then I’ll stay here. If you want to stay in this area, then I’ll move on to another place." Lot took a long look at the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley in the direction of Zoar. The whole area was well watered everywhere, like the garden of the LORD ....Lot chose that land for himself — the Jordan Valley to the east of them. He went there with his flocks and servants and parted company with his uncle Abram. So while Abram stayed in the land of Canaan, Lot moved his tents to a place near Sodom, among the cities of the plain. The people of this area were unusually wicked and sinned greatly against the LORD."
I want to draw your attention just for a moment to verse 11 where it says, "Lot chose for himself." He chose for himself! Go to chapter 19 for a minute, and we break in on the story where the angels of God are telling Lot to get his family out of Sodom before it’s to be destroyed. This is the morning that they were to leave Sodom, beginning with verse 15: "At dawn the next morning the angels became insistent. "Hurry," they said to Lot. "Take your wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out of here right now, or you will be caught in the destruction of the city." When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the LORD was merciful." Focus especially on the phrase at the beginning of verse 16: Lot still hesitated. In chapter 13, Lot "chose for himself." In chapter 19 Lot "hesitated" to leave the city.
I came across a poem that expresses what I want to share with you today, entitled: "What is a Successful Father?" And it reads this way: "You can use most any measure when you’re speaking of success. You can measure it in lovely homes, expensive cars, or fancy dress. But the measure of your real success is one that you cannot spend. It’s the way your son describes you when he’s talking to his friends." When I came across that poem, I thought about how true that really is. I also heard a story about a second grader who was asked in his class to write about his personal hero. His father was flattered to find out that he had chosen him. "Why did you pick me?" he asked his son later: "Because I couldn’t spell Arnold Schwarzenegger," he said. The success of fatherhood is what our children think of us and how they relate what they think of us to their friends.
In a book by Gordon MacDonald entitled, "The Effective Fatherhood," he relates a story of taking his son on a canoe trip down the rapids. And he talks about how his reputation as a father depended on how good he was in keeping his boy out of the water. He said that as he looked at those white rapids, and continually looking down the river, thinking ahead of time of all of the problems that were represented downstream – he said, "I continually had to look downstream and anticipate what was coming for my son." And as the story goes, they didn’t quite make it. Somewhere down the way the rapids got the best of them and down they went.