January 18, 2021
Genesis 18:23-26
Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?  What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?  Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”   The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
New International Version (NIV)
              “If God does not punish America, he will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”  Hearing these words from his wife Ruth, Billy Graham reportedly preached this thought, in a moment of rhetorical flourish, no doubt.  It turns out that God does not apologize.  God is holy, a consuming Fire, and a just Judge.  If “it is time for judgment to begin with the house of God” as Peter says (1 Peter 4:17), we should tremble.  Solzhenitsyn wrote that the line of good and evil runs not only through cities but through every human heart.

              Twin sin cities, Sodom and Gomorrah were infamous for sin.  They were so evil that God came down to see how bad it was.  Abraham was surely concerned about his nephew Lot who had moved in the direction of Sodom and then ended up living downtown.  Sin takes us farther than we want to go, keeps us longer than we want to stay and costs us more than we want to pay. 

              Abraham’s pleading for the city is compelling.  He goes with angels where “angels fear to tread.”  He asks God to spare the cities if he finds fifty righteous people there.  God agrees, and Abraham continues to negotiate, all the way down to ten people.  Unfortunately, God couldn’t find ten people.  Tim Keller said Abraham stopped too soon.  It turns out that God would spare the world if he found one righteous person to stand in the gap.  His name was Jesus.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son . . .” (John 3:16).   Paul writes, “God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

              Since Jesus intercedes for us at the right hand of God as our Advocate even when we sin, how should we respond to the ultimate judgment of the world?  What if we grieved and mourned over our own sin (James 4:9-10).  With Abraham, we should plead and intercede.  God is not willing that people perish.  He wants them to live.  Today we can choose to be angry at a sinful world, or we can ask God to spare life.  He has made a way through Christ.  Not only do we pray for the lost world, but we proclaim the good news.  We are worse off than we thought, and more loved than we ever dreamed.  
Pray with me:         
Father, we thank you for the intervention of your perfect Son on our behalf.  We pray today that you would give us the grace to pray for those who do not yet know you.  Then give us the chance to speak a word for you today for the sake of those who are dying without you.  If we harbor any hatred in our hearts, please remove it we pray, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.     
Scripture memorization for this week:    
Romans 4:20-22
Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.  This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Hebrews 11:17-19
By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”  Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
New International Version (NIV)
Our 2021 Every Day with Jesus readings will follow the Foundations Bible reading plan.  Copies of the reading plan are available at Tallowood Baptist Church, or download your copy here:
https://www.tallowood.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Read-Through-Bible-Download.pdf
We would love for you to join us as we read through the Bible in one year, while still having the flexibility of reading 5 days per week.  In addition, I will continue my long-standing practice of reading one Psalm a day through the year.  We will also memorize 2 scriptures each week.  As we journal together this year,  Robby Gallaty’s H.E.A.R. plan is a good resource: Highlight a verse that stands out to you, Explain what it means, Apply that truth to your life and Respond to what you’ve read with an action or prayer.
Joyfully, 
Duane 

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