Subject 18 : GENESIS

[Chapter 13-2] The Lord Is with Those Who Have Set Their Hearts (Genesis 13:1-18)

The Lord Is with Those Who Have Set Their Hearts
(Genesis 13:1-18)
“Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South. Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the LORD. Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks and herds and tents. Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together. And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land. So Abram said to Lot, ‘Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.’ And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other. Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom. But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD. And the LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: ‘Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.’ Then Abram moved his tent, and went and dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and built an altar there to the LORD.”
I know that all the Words written in the Bible is what God speaks to you and me today, and I believe it as such.
In today’s Scripture reading we read, “Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South. Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold” (Genesis 13:1-2). After Abraham had left his homeland with his nephew Lot, he gained much wealth thanks to his wife Sarah. But because of this great wealth, a problem arose between him and his nephew. At this time these two men were stock breeders, and with the growth of the herd, the land on which to feed and breed cattle became scarce. Lot thinking that Abraham his uncle was taking up too much land said he will leave him. Then what did Abraham our father of faith say to Lot? He said, “Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left” (Genesis 13:9). Looking at what is written here, we can easily see what Abraham’s faith was like and what Lot’s faith was like. These two men’s faith differed from one another and as a result they could not dwell on the same land together. Their fate was such that they had no other choice but to go their separate ways.

The People of Faith Want to Dwell Together

We who have received the remission of sins in our hearts by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit can also be placed in a similar situation as that of Abraham. Although we live together on this earth with people who have as yet not received the remission of their sins and also continue to spread this gospel to them, it is very possible to be under this same conflicting relationship, and so we cannot live together with them, just as Abraham and Lot had fought with each other because of their livestock. Truly there is a great difference between those whose main purpose is the work of spreading this gospel of God, that is, people like Abraham, and those who just pursue material things like Lot. In the beginning, the start may be the same or similar. But later on their hearts will differ greatly, and they won’t be able to dwell together any longer.
It is the same with people abiding together inside the Church of God. On the one hand we find people perfectly pursuing the Spirit by spreading the gospel of the Lord, but there are others, regardless of what they do, ultimately pursue money and seek only their own fleshly desires. These people who have received the remission of their sins can live together but it all depends on whether they are able to unite their wills, and it solely depends on the state of their faith. It is just like Abraham and his nephew Lot having had to separate from each other due to the difference in their faiths. In the beginning Lot stayed with his uncle because he was good for him. And Lot followed Abraham even more so because he was able to find out about God and believe in Him because of his uncle. Abraham wasn’t the one who had guided him at first. I think Lot had lived relying on his uncle, but when Abraham was leaving his homeland, Lot decided to leave with his uncle. They amassed many material things after leaving their homeland. In other words, they became rich. It was as if Lot had realized all his dreams. In this state of fulfillment of all his dreams, Lot no longer needed to follow his uncle anymore. His uncle had started to become the most cumbersome thing, according to his objective.
Under this unbearable situation Abraham said to Lot,” Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left” (Genesis 13:9). When we read these words, I think Abraham’s heart was already assuredly set, a heart of knowing that he could no longer be together with Lot anymore. And so, just like that Lot left Abraham and set off to the land of Zoar. And so God said, “At the time, in the land of Zoar, people were exceedingly wicked,” and “They were terrible sinners before God.” Like these Words of God, Lot became the forerunner of people chasing after worldly materials.
Because of this God said that He would pass judgment on the land of Zoar, but Lot nevertheless went there and lived amongst the indigenous people of Zoar. When the time had passed and God was about to destroy the land of Zoar, that is, the land of Sodom and Gomorrah according to His Word of promise, He delivered Lot as well as his wife and his daughters. But Lot’s wife, who did not believe in God’s Word, looked back and because of this, she turned into a pillar of salt. What happened later on to the daughters who were left? They had a sexual relationship with their own father, thus ensuring his descendants. And their descendants became the Moabites and the Ammonites that stood against Israel for a long time. Amongst the nations that opposed the Israelites, their greatest enemies were none other than these Moabites and Ammonites. Through the origins of these two Gentile tribes, God is telling us what the result would be like for those who just chase after material things.

Where Do You Place Your Life’s Purpose?

You and I started out our life of faith by serving this Lord-given gospel. Even as we started out on this right path we must constantly think about “Where do I place my life’s purpose?” If someone’s purpose lies in just material things, then that person would solely be looking for opportunities to gain much material things. Once he gains sufficient wealth, he will no doubt start to throw out his faith and belief regardless of how precious it is. If this is the case for us, whose purpose lies only in the service of the gospel and following the Lord, then what kind of action must we choose? We should depart from them resolutely. Abraham said to Lot, “If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.” This kind of attitude is the genuine faith.
At the time when Abraham perceived his nephew Lot’s heart, he concluded that everything regarding Lot’s faith was already finished. Lot, who was in conflict with Abraham by just pursuing material things, had probably displayed his wishes to depart. Even though he might not have said so directly, he probably was looking for an opportunity having previously expressed his wishes to depart from his uncle. After seeing and experiencing such behavior, what did Abraham our father of faith say to him? He said, “Please separate from me. He did not hesitate, but told him clearly, please separate from me. You can make the choice. Looking at this whole land Lot, if you take the left, then I will go to the right. If you choose the higher place, then I will go to the lower place; or if you go to the plains below, then I will go to the mountainous area.” Then hearing those words from Abraham and seizing the opportunity, Lot said he will choose the land of Zoar.
Back then the land of Zoar was highly fertile. In today’s Scripture reading, it is described as a place that was well watered just like the land of Egypt. It means that this land was remarkably fertile. Because Lot took that fertile land, Abraham now had to leave him there and go up into the mountainous areas. In other words, Lot told him that he would take that land with these calculations in mind. Although Abraham and Lot had been together, they were separated in the end because of Lot’s calculating motives.
After the departure of his nephew, God appeared before Abraham and granted him blessings and grace by saying, “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever” (Genesis 13:14-15). God is faithful to those who are faithful to Him.
I must tell you that I have experienced many difficulties whilst serving the gospel. The truth is that at times I became vexed and thought, “Can’t I just live for my flesh in comfort?” But if the born-again do not possess the purpose of trying to spread the gospel, then what fun would there be in their lives? If one were to try to eat and live well only for oneself, then really what reason would there be for living? All one has to do is to conquer a certain field, once done you live off of that. And then after having gathered a certain amount of wealth, all that`s left to do is to ride around in a luxurious car and travel around the world playing golf with a couple of secretaries. Of course, it is possible only when God gives permission for this. It isn’t something that can just simply be done. If God does not grant us material abundance, what then would happen? With a liquor bottle in one pocket, we will roam about this alley today and that alley tomorrow, making loud noises at the top of our voices, and then in the end having been exposed to cold weather, we will die of hypothermia and leaving one line in the newspapers of this meaningless death. That person will become a source of trivial news that reads, “Some man froze to death while sleeping in an alley.” If the born-again do not set their lives’ purpose properly, then in the end they will end up dying like this.

We Must Set Our Objective Well

Regardless of who they are, human beings are all insufficient and have weak flesh. This is an accurate existence of us. However, depending on where we place our life’s purpose, our lives can become strong. We can make our way through difficulties as we pursue that purpose. Everyone has critical moments and times of hardship. And those critical moments can multiply even in a day. But if a person clearly has this objective of living for the gospel of God in his or her heart, then God will give that person the strength to go through these critical moments, and He will give them power along with blessings. He will allow these people of faith to overcome their most critical moments. Only God can do this; is there anyone who has the power to overcome all his problems on his own with his human effort? There is none. Human beings are actually nothing before God.
I ask our ministers, male and female workers, as well as our brothers and sisters, “Have you set your objective? Have you decided to live for the gospel of the Lord?” It is the same with our lay believers. If one does not decide on this, then that person will become someone like Lot, as shown here in today’s Scripture passage.
What happens to those who have only their own fleshly objective and try to realize this? They could become someone like Judas Iscariot who sold out Jesus. The end of a person like this is only destruction. Dear fellow believers, this is the truth. I will not tell you this in a coercively way, “Become a spiritually perfect person.” All I’m asking you to do is to set upon a clear objective for your life, just as Abraham who thoroughly believed in and followed the Word of God. I ask you to have this same faith, just as Abraham believed that God had prepared a blessed place for him to live, and would guide him to that place.
In the Book of Hebrews, we read, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10). Abraham had set his heart from the beginning, but his nephew Lot did not, even though he followed Abraham. In the beginning he followed God according to the situation he found himself in, but when things got a little better he left Abraham. He could have left because of little disappointments, or because of boredom or tediousness. But the truth is Lot left Abraham, his spiritual leader.
There is a brother in our Church who conducts choir worship. During these past festive days, I saw him going home by himself, leaving his wife behind. He decided to quit this Church and to go his own way. So seeing this I spoke to his wife to pack up her bags and go home together with her husband. She then told me that there is nothing wrong in their relationship. I then asked her why then were they staying apart, and she said she wanted to serve the gospel here. With this I concluded and told her. “You don’t need to be here. Go after your husband quickly. Even though you say things are fine now, but later on there will be a severe discord, so go after your husband right now. It is fitting that a woman follows her husband after marriage.” After this episode there were various incidents. But in the end the wife followed her husband, and everything turned out well. Those two are now apparently living happily together in the same house and have a happy life.
Just like this couple, there are people leaving this Church. So, the question is, why do people depart from the work of spreading this gospel of the Lord? It is because, like Lot, they have not set their purpose on God’s work but on material things. They think they should leave the Church and make some start-up money because they have plans to live well in this world. Of course, such a purpose can turn out well, but the chances of it falling through are even greater. If people were to place their sole purpose in the well-being of their flesh, then the results will become quite obvious.
Some saints say that it is tiresome to stay inside the Church, but the truth is, what life in this world isn’t difficult? Every way of life is hard. If you go out into the world, do you think life will become easier? That is not so. Of course, I know very well that you are working hard here inside this Church. But I can boldly tell you this: “Any kind of work that you do out in the society will be more painful and agonizing than the work here in this Church.” Those who had jobs in the world should know this very well. Regardless of what you do, whether you are delivering gas tanks, working in an office as a salaried man, or running a small business, it is all very difficult. You might be abused by some people, get hit by notepads or books and suffer all kinds of scorn. Of course for some people, things always go well, but one thing is certain and that is, there isn’t a single person who does not have critical moments and hard times in their life.
Have You Now Set Your Heart by Faith?
Just because some people have left the Church of the Lord, I will not speak ill of them. But I want to tell you this clearly today: As for you and me who are gathered here, have we all clearly set our hearts? Have you set your hearts to live for the Lord-given gospel until the day of the Lord’s return? If not you will still find yourselves in a precarious situation, thinking, “Right now my situation is like this, so I have no other choice but to stay in this Church, but as soon as I gather up some money, I will quit this Church at once”?
Dear fellow believers, if you are going to leave this Church then please leave quickly. Do you think the Lord’s work will not go well just because you are leaving? No, that is not the case. And as for the departed, they can lead their lives on their own. There is nothing to say to them anymore. In any case, God will judge these people on His own accord, and He will reward the faithful on His own accord. That is the work God will be doing. But as for those of you who are here, all you have to do is to serve the gospel even more faithfully, but as for the departed, all they have to do is to live according to their own purposes like perishing beasts.
Then why do you think I speak to you like this, popping my veins? It is because if people had calmly thought about their life’s purpose during ordinary times, they would have never left the Church so easily. They readily depart from the Lord because they have always been calculating their gains and losses from church life, without ever having clearly set their hearts during ordinary times. It is because regardless of what the Lord’s servants say, they do not take these words into their hearts and have as yet not set their hearts on a clear cut purpose. Although they have the desire to follow and serve the gospel, but on the other hand they also have a heart which says, “If some breakthrough opportunity comes my way, I will be on my way at once, looking for a way to live well.” And so when they face a difficult moment in their lives, they daringly leave the Lord, not being able to deny their fleshly thoughts rising up within them. Only later do they come to their senses and show regret and confess that they did not know why they had done so. Therefore, I am saying that we must think about this now, whilst we are still staying in the Church in peace. I am saying that you must think about it when your hearts are still feeling comfortable, for the hardships have as yet not approached you.
Whether the Path of Abraham or the Path of Lot, Have You Decided Your Way in Your Heart?
Right at this moment, when you and I still haven’t faced any severe hardships, we must think about this right now while we are following the Lord: “Must I truly live out this life wholly for this gospel of the Lord? If not, after having served the Lord like this, must I lead a life on my own when things start to go well?” We must weigh this up, and honestly reflect back on our hearts once again. I am saying that we must calculate which path is right and what it is that we must do. And then, we must lean our hearts towards either one of these two paths. There are only two paths; the path that Abraham took and the path that Lot took. However, bearing in mind that once you set your heart in earnest by saying, “I will go where the Word of God leads me, just like Abraham,” God who is omnipotent will lead you and bestow blessings upon you.
But if you do not assuredly set your heart, what then will happen? Satan will rattle your faith and your belief that is in your heart as he wishes. In the beginning, this man named Lot also had the same objectives as that of Abraham. But once he started to amass much material wealth, he left Abraham. Did he leave because he regarded Abraham his enemy? No, he did not. He left Abraham, thinking, “I want to be with my uncle, but the land here is too cramped for all of us to pasture and breed all our livestock. So, I will leave for a-while. We are not enemies with each other.” It was like this in the beginning, but what happened afterwards? He became more and more distant, and later on he fathered the Moabites and the Ammonites that stood against Abraham’s descendants to the end.
I am sure there are some amongst you who are attending this Church against your wills, having no other choice. I also know that there are some of you who just sit here because you have other no choice due to your circumstances. But despite this even to these people, I want to ask you to think deeply about your hearts and to lead a life of faith unwaveringly.
Dear fellow believers, what have you decided in your hearts? “This gospel is correct and it is right to serve this gospel with all our hearts and strength. Also, it is right to live for this gospel. It is only right that I should be living inside this Church, receiving its blessings as well as suffering its hardships. I will lead such a life. From now on I will live in Christ and die in Christ. Now my life is the life for Christ.” Have you decided that your heart must be like this by faith? If not, are you thus thinking, “I am living like this because I have no other choice? If circumstances should change, I can leave this place”? Dear fellow believers, we must look into our hearts and seriously examine it. But the truth is that there are many people who have as yet not set their hearts, even if ten years have passed since they received the remission of their sins. There are many people like this, even after ten, fifteen, twenty or even thirty years. So we must assuredly decide right now what kind of purpose we will live for.

Lean Your Heart towards God

Truly, you and I must assuredly decide on which of these two hearts we will possess: You could decide like Abraham, saying, “I must set my heart before God and then live out my life,” or like Lot, saying, “I live like this because of the precarious circumstance I find myself in right now, but I will leave at once whenever my circumstances becomes better.” But we need to know this that once our hearts leave God, it becomes difficult to revert back. It is the same for all our ministry workers, including pastors and mission workers. In the beginning they might think, “I have never been in enmity with you, Pastor Jong. We haven’t really become enemies. I’m leaving simply because I am lacking,” but with the passing of time, that heart gradually turns wicked. The devil captures that heart which has departed from God, and later on, these very people become God’s opponents and His enemies who will forever turn away from Him.
Dear fellow believers, think about this one more time. Because you are a human being, you are all physically weak and lacking, but you think that you are the only one not like this. You may be prone to consider yourself as an example of a decent Christian. But when our environments and circumstances change and we experience difficulties, what will our true reaction be over these hardships? We can never be honorable or dignified. Hence, we must admit that we are feeble beings having a heart that can easily change at any time. Thus, please set your heart firmly. If you are someone who has already received the remission of your sins, then you have been brought back to life in Christ, and have died in Christ, and been resurrected in Christ. If this be so then why do you make excuses saying something like your situation isn’t good and try to chase after carnal objectives of earning money? If you dwell with the born-again people inside the Church, your basic necessities, such as eating and drinking, have been all taken care of. Actually the truth is that those of you who are abiding inside the Church are leading a comfortable life. I am saying that all you have to do is to lead a righteous life, without having anything to worry about anymore.
Your predecessors of faith have laid down the foundation so that we can go on living without having any problem so long as we set our hearts to live for the gospel. This is why we can live out our lives of faith in this Church with much comfort so long as we are willing to lead this proper life of faith. Imagine a situation where you have to make those grounds all by yourselves to lead a proper life of faith. “This is the genuine gospel, but that is the false one.” Imagine that you had to lead a life of faith by laying down each and every foundation like this. You will not be able to continue your life of faith whilst waging these fights. As someone who leads you, I am honestly telling you that if I were in your place, I will diligently be leading a life of faith whilst thanking those predecessors who laid out the foundation of the Church.
The foundation of the Church has already been laid down. You don’t have to battle with these false teachers anymore. Just as long as you have set your heart assuredly, you can live for the Lord to your heart’s content for these foundations have already been laid down. How then can we lead a life of faith upon that foundation? We must not leave the Church. If you leave the Church, you will not be able to lead a proper life of faith. Imagine what will happen when you stop attending the Church, thinking, “Although I don’t go to the Church, my heart is always in the Church.” A person like this can never lead a proper life of faith.
If someone is separated from God’s Church, he will become filthier than ever and more deceitful than ever, and will become aggressive towards God and will grow even higher than ever. How can someone like this lead a life of faith? That is why God has bestowed the Church and its predecessors of faith on you. And through these servants of God, He is telling us, “Set your heart unwaveringly.” Because of this we must give thanks for the blessings of God through which He wants to benefit us. I am saying this, and at the same time I admonish you to not think, “That pastor is always trying to make a cat’s paw out of me.” But if you do so, you are wrong in your judgment. For you are already an adult who would come to the Church just because someone has lured you somehow? So, please do not even try to have such a childish thought. You follow your leaders simply because the Lord is right and this Lord-given gospel is correct.
Of course, there are difficulties in following the Lord and His gospel. One of these difficulties stems from your own weaknesses, and the other one stems from those who are looking out for an opportunity to leave the Lord at any time. Even at this hour, there must be some who are watching out for an opportunity without having set their hearts assuredly. To these believers I want to deliver this Word of God to you: “Set your heart assuredly. If you do not set your heart like this, you will be destroyed.” I can say this to you because I go on living having set my heart, but if I did not set my heart assuredly, I could never speak such words to you.
What do you think the true motives of those who come to this Church without having set their hearts assuredly like this, be like? Coming to this Church just once in a while, having good meals and going to the bathroom and so on, they do not care whether or not God’s work goes well. As long as they do not receive any physical loss they will be satisfied. You and I should not be like this. The Lord said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” (Matthew 5:10). Try to think about this once more: “Am I having difficulties and much anguish because of righteousness? Or am I having troubles and much agony because of my own fleshly desires?” When you do this, you will be able to quickly discern whether or not you are a spiritual person or a fleshly one.
Right now, are you in agony because the work of God isn’t going well? If not, are you in agony because your fleshly affairs aren’t going well? I am asking you, which side are you on right now? Like this it becomes crystal clear whether you are someone like Abraham or someone like Lot.
Abraham said, “If you take the left, then I will go to the right” (Genesis 13:9). Abraham thought to himself that he could never dwell with someone like Lot for he had already assuredly set his heart to follow after God. It didn’t matter even if he was his nephew. What do you think the reason for that was? It was because Abraham knew very well that Lot’s heart was completely different from his. He knew that Lot was someone who could get happy with the increase in the number of sheep and goats and that Lot was someone who would even stand against God if he should suffer any loss, even just a little. I am saying here that Abraham’s heart and Lot’s heart were completely different from each other.

Abraham-like People and Lot-like People

It is the same inside God’s Church. People may all be similar from a fleshly perspective, but the center of their hearts differ greatly. If someone is like Lot whose heart is placed out into the world, then that person isn’t actually a worker or even a faithful saint. He is nobody. However, if someone who at least has a heart that believes in the gospel of God and dedicates himself to the spreading of that gospel, he is very different, even though he may be an awful person and be prone to be seized by fleshly thoughts at times. “Because I have died in Christ and been brought back to life in Christ, I can never leave Christ. I have difficulties at times because of fleshly thoughts rising up within my heart, but even if I have these difficulties, I cannot give up the Lord’s work. Christ has made me His own and His worker, and so has allowed me to live for the righteousness of God. No matter what happens, I can never give up this work.” Anyone who has set their hearts like this is someone of genuine faith, that is, an Abraham-like person.
There may be some believers even in God’s Church who think, “I am here in this Church because my circumstances are like this, but if I am given a better chance, I will be able to quit attending this Church at any time.” But what will happen to these wavering and unsteady believers? Like Lot in the Scriptures, they would suffer destruction in the end. Dear fellow believers, because of this you and I must set our hearts firmly. God is a God who looks into the center of our hearts, and not our outward appearances. God knows everything about us. We must become a spiritual person because even now God is always looking into our hearts. We must be feeling joy and sadness all because of the work of spreading the gospel of God. I am saying that we must feel joy and sadness because of spiritual works, such as doing the work of delivering other souls, not because of things of this world.
But what is a fleshly person like? He feels joy and sadness not because of God’s work but because of himself. As for people who have as yet not set their hearts assuredly before God, their joys and sorrows of life are determined because of themselves. They become happy because of the achievements of their own desires, and they become depressed because of their failure in achieving their lusts.
Of course, even those who have set their hearts before God cannot completely drive away such desires coming out from themselves because they are also human beings. But still our main purpose is always placed on the work of delivering other souls, which is the greatest purpose in your life as well as mine. I am asking you to become someone who feels the joy and the sorrows of life because of the work of God, that is, someone who feels joy at times, feels sadness at times, feels tired at times, feels delight at times, and dislikes something at times all because of the work of spreading this gospel. Although we will not be able to do so thoroughly, we should at least become someone who feels joy and sadness because of the work of God at least by two-thirds of our hearts.
“Am I living like this because I am following God? Will I become a penniless person if I keep on serving the Lord like this?” Are you thinking like this? Then if so try living out in the world sweating blood. Even if you do this, you will only be able to barely feed your family. You must not think that you are living like this because you are living only for the gospel, even though you can live well out in the world for you are versatile. Think about your abilities for a second. We human beings do not have much to brag about. So I say the following to our ministry workers: “You are blessed. Of course not everyone is the same, but some people roam the back allies having become a drunkard. Also some other lazy people are now homeless, unable to feed themselves. Is it true or not? If you were to go out into this world, you might become someone who will have no other choice but to live like this. You might become someone sleeping under newspapers in doorways and subway stations. But you are living blessedly like this because you have at least met the Lord.” Although there are some people who disagree with my words, there also are many ministry workers who agree with them. Of course, I know not all of them are awful and lacking in competency, but I say so because I am also an awful person.
Dear fellow believers, if we who follow the Lord do not work for God’s righteousness, what joy would there be in us? What worth would there be in our lives? We would only be drinking a bowl of hard liquor and find pleasure in showing off our blind courage. We would do so because there is no real joy in our lives. People in this world who have as yet not received the remission of their sins mostly live like this. All the people in this world do not have much to brag about.
Of course, there are some who are not like this. They would say to me, “Do you know just how many people in the world are not like this?” But one thing is clear many people living in this world have to be crazy about something, seeking after the joys of life. Whether it is helping others, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, dancing, gambling, fishing, various sports, or the opposite sex, people have to be crazy about something because if they did not, they won’t be able to go on living. It is because the world is fundamentally a place like this. But what will happen if someone becomes crazy about a work that is not righteous? That soul will in the end die in misery. Is this true or not?
What do our students think about this? You say you don’t know because you haven’t thought about it? For a moment I would like to speak to our young students. At your age, you have to think about the universe and think about the history of the entire world. You also have reached an age when you can all sufficiently think about these issues and make logical judgments. Because you are at an age when your senses are acute, you can judge more accurately when a certain pastor talks to you. But when you get older, the world will not leave you alone, and it won’t even give you the opportunity to think deeply about serious matters. Actually, middle school and high school students have better and more accurate judgment than college students or even adults. I am saying that young students can find out what is wrong or right more accurately. When a person reaches at least the level of a college student, that person would think about everything selfishly and partially, for that person’s thoughts have already hardened and fallen into the flesh. Thus, I want our young students to also quickly decide now how you will set your heart for righteousness.
You say, “It is hard, so very hard. Following the Lord is so difficult. The work of spreading this gospel is too difficult.” You are right. Everyone is weary and exhausted. Yes, there are many workers staying up all night for the Lord’s work. Also for me, I once had my spine swell up trying to do this document work. I was told that it was because I had strained my nerves while modifying the draft copies. There was a time when I was on the verge of death with my back swelling up like a hunchbacked person. Long ago I worked all through the night on many occasions, but now, even if I want to, I am unable to do so. When I was young, I had worked having no regard for my health, but now, because I have received good treatments, I am able to do the work of the Lord. Because I am living for the Lord’s gospel, that is, being used in a very meaningful work, I am thankful to the Lord. I am thankful that He has allowed me to do this work while I am still alive, without having to suffer death. But even if I had died, I would have been thankful as well.
I Have Set My Heart at Each Critical Moment
“You are tired because you have not set your heart. How can you say your flesh is tired? There isn’t even that much work these days!” I clearly say these words to our ministry workers. I first pay attention to what someone says, and if I find that my decision is correct, then I say these words to that person. Then some of them will answer, “Your words are correct. Your judgment on me is the correct one. I am that kind of a person.” God said there are people like Abraham while there are people like Lot. This is precisely what the Bible tells us. Having received the remission of sins at the same time, we will always find people like Abraham and people like Lot. People like Lot are those who have not set their hearts before God, but people like Abraham are those who have assuredly set their heart by believing in the Word of God and following after that Word.
Of course, there will be critical moments even for those who have set their heart before God. The same was true in the case of Abraham, the father of faith. What happened when Abraham and his wife traveled to Egypt? Pharaoh the king of Egypt saw Abraham’s wife and sought to take her, saying she was beautiful. At that critical moment, thinking that the king would kill him if he were to say, “This woman is my wife,” Abraham said, “This woman is my sister.” And then, he sent his wife away to another man, saying “I bid you well, my sister.”
For Abraham, this was his critical moment. To say that his wife was his sister fearing for his very life, what else would this be then if it was not a critical moment? If we look at it clearly, Abraham at that time was a man without any fidelity. Wouldn’t even a hoodlum try to protect his wife even if it means getting beaten to death? Like this, I am saying that Abraham had his critical moments and on numerous occasions. Despite it all, Abraham had properly relied on God. And as a result, he could receive salvation from God and lead a righteous life. This is truly what a life of faith is all about.
If you have decided to live for the gospel, you must think positively and creatively, “What can I do to live for this gospel? What can I do to spread this gospel effectively?” By doing so, you must make challenges and overcome these difficult situations. The true life of faith is to carry out the work of preaching and sharing the gospel of the Lord to many people with faith that you have attained on the way; it is not an aimless life that is flowing along like a river. Such a life is like that of Lot. If you would live according to these situations, you would become someone like Lot. And should your circumstances change, you would be prone to give up your faith and turn around and become an opponent of God. Thus, dear fellow believers set your hearts. Set your hearts assuredly.
To all our ministry workers, to you, and to all the born-again saints in this world, I can say that I have set my heart assuredly. Just because you have set your heart once long ago, it does not mean that that is sufficient. You must set your heart again and again whenever something happens to you. You must set your heart once again whenever you face another critical situation. You must hope that the will of Christ will be realized through your life, even though you are lacking. That is the attitude of the heart of those who have set their hearts firmly. Once we have set our hearts firmly like this and live for the will of God, He will hold us and lead us to the upright path. He will protect us. But if you were to not set your hearts and live according to your own situation, Satan will come inside and ransack your hearts. And in the end you will be taken away by him. The reason why some people who have received the remission of sins turn back after having followed the Lord lies at this point.
There is a popular song in Korea that goes, “Do well, when I am still here.” At ordinary times, when we are still leading our life of faith, that is, when there are no inhibitions against following God, we must look into our own hearts and assuredly set our hearts. Once we set our hearts firmly during these normal times, and when we really face a critical moment in our lives, we can wholly follow the Lord once again, thinking, “Have I not set my heart before God?” But having done nothing at normal times, as we face any real problems, it would then be too late to set our hearts. At this moment knowing that we are in no way someone who can follow the Lord, we would give up our life of faith in no time. On our own we may conclude, “No way! I can never lead a life of faith anymore.” People like this truly cannot lead a proper life of faith. Although they could lead a life of faith, but because they did not set their heart firmly, they defeat themselves when troubles come their way. That is why they end up giving up their faith.
“Even though I am lacking, I will live for the Lord.” As long as we set our hearts like this, all the evil thoughts that oppress, crush and lead us to wrong places will go away. They will go away, just as Satan goes away when we defeat him by the name of Jesus Christ.
In the last verse of the Epistle to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul said the following: “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity” (Ephesians 6:24). These Words are not just some greetings. It means God’s grace and all His blessings will be upon those who have set their hearts to be unfaltering and to love Christ. God loves these people and gives them heavenly blessings.
But what will happen to those who do not set their hearts to be unfaltering but claim to follow the Lord? They can betray the Lord at any time. For this reason we must set our hearts unwaveringly. People who set their heart assuredly before the Lord are like Abraham. You and I must live like this. We have already received the remission of our sins, so we should go on living having set our hearts and receive blessings from God. I am saying if we should go on living without having set our hearts, we will be deceived by the devil and then later on become an opponent of God?
People who were working with us but later have left us, that is, those who do not live for the gospel say something like this when they have left the Church: “I just left this Church because I am weak. I do not oppose the gospel. Nor do I hate the Church.” In the beginning they say things like this. But take a look at them after a short while. They obstruct and stand against the work that the Church does, and to the others they say, “They are heretics.”
Dear fellow believers, you must set your heart assuredly. Even though you may be lacking, you can at least set your heart towards God. You can set your heart by professing, “This is right. It is right to live for the gospel, and the predecessors of faith who are living for the gospel are right. Even though I lack physical strength, and I have neither power nor faith, it is nevertheless right for me to live for the gospel like this. I do set my heart to live for the Lord.” From a fleshly perspective, we cannot live equally, but as we set our hearts like this, we can all become equal children before God.
Dear fellow believers, set your heart towards God. God only gives blessings as well as grace to those who have set their hearts like this.
This sermon is also available in ebook format. Click on the book cover below.