May 5, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Daniel Kim, Gracepoint San Diego

Here is God, looking down toward Sodom, next to Abraham.  And God reveals His heartache toward Sodom and Gomorrah to Abraham, talking to Abraham about the great outcry against those cities and their grievous sins.  What would God say to me today?  What does God see as He looks out into the cities, as He looks down into our world?  The sins that have become the norm in our culture, the brokenness everywhere that the world doesn’t know what to do with, all the glorying in our shame… What does God see as He looks at the college campuses where all sorts of self-destructive sins reign supreme?  I have to wonder how much God’s heart aches as He sees all the addictions, the rampant hookup culture and the godless world-system that is set on enslaving everyone who steps foot onto the scene.  Through this text, I’m challenged by the question: Do I hear the outcry?  Do I see the gravity of the sin that God sees?  God reveals to Abraham His heartache and wrath toward sin.  The question is whether or not I’m ready to hear it.   Before I go and do something about the situation, I must start where Abraham started here – to simply hear God sharing His heart with me and mourning over the spiritual condition of the people with God.

Abraham’s response is to engage in a back-and-forth conversation with God.  Through this “prayer,” Abraham gets even a deeper insight into God’s heart – that He does not delight in the death of the wicked, but that God is compassionate even in the midst of judgment.  For the sake of 50, for the sake of 10, God will not bring about the deserved punishment.  Abraham learns that God’s wrath toward sin is not capricious, but the only recourse toward evil.

Moreover, Abraham’s response parallels the common mistake that people make, even ministers of the gospel.  Abraham thought that the condition of Sodom and Gomorrah weren’t that bad.  Maybe there are 50 people in there who are righteous.. Surely there must be at least 10.  It turned out that Abraham was wrong.  He underestimated the depth of people’s sins.  As I look at the world, at this campus, I can be so blind to the depth of sin that has enslaved the people inside.  Many people automatically feel that people are more or less “okay”, and that only a certain few people are messed up by sin.  So when God shares His sense of urgency, we can even think that He might be over-reacting.  Like Abraham, I am often deaf to the outcry.   What do I see?  What do I hear?  My prayer is that my ears would be open as God shares His heart with me.

Submitted by David Lee, Gracepoint Austin

What do Abraham’s repeated questions, his boldness, his appeal to truths about justice and God’s character, and his overall persistence show about the biblical portrait of a healthy relationship with God, and a healthy relationship with authority figures in general?

I have learned that a healthy relationship with God and spiritual leaders requires a lot of honest, persistent dialogue, even though it may be painstaking at times.  A healthy relationship also does away with any masking or pretense in trying to appear altogether by NOT bringing up “stupid questions”.  A healthy relationship also brushes aside the fear of coming across as needy or petty by offering up our requests, and is based upon honesty and truth where one can share the negative emotions or thoughts that creep into his/her mind when they arise.  Abraham was straight up with God in his request to appeal on behalf of the righteous men of Sodom, even though he knew that God could very well deny his wish or get annoyed by his numerous requests.  Abraham kept pushing his request further and further because he probably understood some small aspect regarding the heart of God:  His patience, His mercy, and His magnanimous heart for man.

When I recollect the kind of relationship I had with my father growing up, I don’t really recall a time when I felt insecure about asking him for something I needed, because as his child, it was implied that I was dependent on his ability to provide for me and the rest of our family.  Whether I had some pain that needed treatment or needed money to pay for lunch, I didn’t hesitate to ask because those were legitimate needs that I knew he would gladly provide.  I wasn’t concerned about coming across as needy or lame because in a sense, I already knew I couldn’t provide for myself but had to rely on his provisions.  And being the loving father that he was, he freely gave and even sacrificed beyond his means at times just to provide for our family.  How tragic it would have been had I felt insecure about my image from a young age and couldn’t get myself to ask my father for basic necessities.  Sadly, when it comes to my relationship with God and I have needs that I should ask for, I am often too proud to bring my requests to Him because of the sinful way that I calculate the risk of appearing weak or petty.  As a result, when I engage in this kind of absurd thinking, I fail to experience the miracle of answered prayer, whether it’s prayers for the needs of the church, the spiritual needs of my students, or even my own needs for wisdom and grace.  I need to learn how to pray by looking at Abraham and letting the dialogue between me and God flow without being hindered by my ego and foolish pride that often thinks “I know how it’s going to play out.”  Specifically, this can only happen when I a) humble myself by being OK with coming across as needy, b) honestly confessing where I’m at emotionally, whether it’s a state of frustration, grief, or anguish over difficult circumstances or intercessory prayers for others, and c) persistently pray even though I may not get an immediate response.  I think through these ways I will be able to grow in my spiritual maturity, faith, and humble dependence on the Father.

 

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