August 18, 2019
Pastor John Hering
Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. 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.”
Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”
“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”
Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”
He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”
Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”
He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”
He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”
Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”
He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”
The room isn’t much larger than an elevator, but the walls, floor and ceiling are covered in mirrors with thousands of little LEDs. Can you imagine walking into this room with your eyes closed and then opening them up? The reflecting goes to infinity! And because the room is dark, except for the tiny little LEDs, you hesitate because you’d have the feeling of being suspended with nothing but star-like distance all around you. I did show a picture of this room in our opening devotion for Kingdom Kids today.
The theme of today’s worship is prayer. We have learned a simple definition for prayer to be “talking to God.” But it is hardly a simple thing when you consider that prayer connects you to God who is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. Yes, the Lord God has the whole world in his hands, but he also has the farthest star in his hands, too. God knows about every second, every sneeze, every sand on the seashore, every drop of water, blink of an eye, and gnats flying around your head. God has authority over every thought, every action of man, every thought and action of Satan, too. God knows that this year 80 million people will be born and 60 million will die. That in 1960 there were 3 billion people in the world, 2000 6 billion and in 4 years the population will reach 8 billion!
Infinity can be overwhelming. The God enters the room with you. He holds all things together and at the end of time all people, all things on the earth and under the earth will give glory to his holy name. The Lord is our God who “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Eph 3:20). So, as we enter in God’s infinity chamber today as dust and ashes, get this: Our prayers speak to this God! It makes sense after we know this to be self-disciplined, persistent, and not just finding time, but making time to Speak To God In Prayer!
Speak To God In Prayer Prompted by Faith
Our Old Testament lesson takes us in the Abraham’s infinity chamber with the Lord at his side. Last week we heard how Abraham and Sarah received the promise of a son from the three visitors. The Lord is not silent with Abraham, but sharing some amazing information. Abraham received promises to possess the Land of Canaan, made into a great nation and be the forefather of the Savior of the world! Abraham had been trained for this moment. He has already learned of his own need for a Savior because his God demanded perfection. He also was given faith that leaned on his God to provide the holiness he needed for a perfect relationship with God through his Son. These things belonged to Abraham and shaped his life. The truths of his sins and God’s plan of salvation gave Abraham meaning for life, purpose for his time, priorities in his relationships and a message for the next generation. Yes, being in God’s infinity room leads to a thousand prayers! We can easily imagine Abraham praying, “Lord you are awesome! I confess that I have failed you. Thank you for your gracious call to be your own, to be your people filled with such blessings. Lord, keep my faith strong, help my wife and family put their trust in your promises!”…… Oh, no! The family! His nephew Lot! He had chosen to move to Sodom, already well-known for its wickedness. All this was going on in God’s infinity room!
“Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know. The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord.” Abraham knew full well that his nephew was in big trouble. ”Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” Abraham had good reason to talk to the Lord God. He knew Lot’s soul was in the hands of the Lord. Lot was God’s child and righteous through faith in the Lord. Abraham knew of Noah, also called righteous, and the Lord spared his family in the great Flood.
There were options on the table and Abraham spoke to the Lord about them. Abraham realized he was but dust and ashes in God’s infinity chamber, but also realized God was in control. God could allow Lot and his family to perish with Sodom, but would treat them differently by taking them to heaven in the destruction. Or God could be saving Lot and his family from temptation that was more than they could handle. Who among us is qualified to say when someone’s time is up and when God should remain patient? Who among us holds all the facts and all the consequences that we might make the perfect decision, dole out perfect justice and perfect love all the time? Who alone but God is fit to serve as Judge of all the earth?
Abraham, prompted by his faith, steps boldly into God’s infinity chamber to pray: “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?” Abraham prays all the way down to 10 righteous people, “Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”
And the Lord listened, “He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.” Abraham shared his perspective with God and spoke to him as a dear child speaks to his dear Father with a heart full of faith.
It should be no wonder to us that God loves to hear such prayers from his children. Such prayer is the produce from our Savior’s planting. Jesus is the Word that comes to us in promise after promise. He is the source of all, the fulfillment of all, and through him we are brought back to God and given the confidence to hear it, believe it and live it. God smells the sweet incense of his Son in our prayers and rejoices in it. So step into God’s infinity chamber and speak to God in prayer prompted by your faith! Shame on us when we don’t pray, or pray with eyerolls disappointed with our lives. We have God’s promises from his Word as a weapon in prayer to deal with our circumstances. Faith in God’s promises gives us the power to wrestle with temptations and chaos in our lives. Speak to God in prayer prompted by your faith! Realize your prayers take you into God’s infinity chamber
Speak To God In Prayer Fully Aware of His Power
We said before that a simple definition of prayer is talking to God. True. However, realize that prayer is much more than that! Look what happened! Abraham prayed for God’s justice and love and to hold the LEDs in his infinity chamber in a different way for the sake of his dearly loved children. God had loaded his clouds with fire ready to bring his justice on wicked sinners. If Abraham wasn’t concerned, he was worried; if not worried, he was desperate for Lot and his family. Grace upon grace, God embraced Abraham and his comments in prayer and made yet another promise, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.” In city of thousands if there were 10 righteous people the title of this chapter would be, “The near destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah!”
But, there were not 10. The heavens rained down fire and justice destroyed those wicked cities. But, listen to the next chapter, “So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived” (Gen 19:29). Because Abraham entered into God’s infinity chamber in prayer, God rescued Lot. Did you hear what I just said? We are but dust and ashes, so overwhelmed and so uniformed in this infinity chamber, yet God graciously takes your prayers into consideration for the way he governs. Why? Jesus makes your prayers powerful by remembering them as he governs the world! How? Your prayers are powerful, not because they are your prayers, but because you are fully aware that the object and focus of your prayers is powerful—the Lord God Almighty!
Dear Christian Friends, think about how connected you are to God through the example of Abraham. Think about how influential you are to God’s rule of all things. You embrace your God. You speak to him in faith. He embraces your prayers and from your faith perspective does not forget you when the day arrives for action.
I know. Too easily we assume something happens more or less naturally. We forget that all things depend on God’s control. You think the food you eat simply does something good for you with or without prayer, right? You recover from a broken bone or stay in the hospital, because that’s what usually happens, right? And so we are tempted to think “things happen” “just because,” and faith is trampled. We step out of God’s infinity chamber and forget to recognize God’s honor and glory and forget to pray.
But, not today. Today we learned what God’s gives us in prayer. So, hear God’s promises from his Word. Step into God’s infinity chamber often and Speak to God in Prayer confident in faith and leaning on his power. Approach God because you know his merciful love. Pray and see God coming close to you with his ears ready to listen, his mighty arm of power to act, his perfect answer to be given. Step often into God’s infinity chamber and speak to him. Then step back and watch as God works out all things for your eternal good. Amen!