“And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations, that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these joined together in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him came and attacked the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim, and the Horites in their mountain of Seir, as far as El Paran, which is by the wilderness. Then they turned back and came to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and attacked all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who dwelt in Hazezon Tamar. And the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out and joined together in battle in the Valley of Siddim against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of nations, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. Now the Valley of Siddim was full of asphalt pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled; some fell there, and the remainder fled to the mountains. Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. They also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, for he dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner; and they were allies with Abram. Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people.”
A Korean holiday is around the corner. On this holiday, our ministers and workers also plan to get together at Inje Discipleship Training Center for a much needed break. We have always been busy serving the Lord, and so we should take advantage of these holidays to get some needed rest. On these occasions when families get together to worship their ancestors and foster family ties, traditional holidays in Korea are celebrated by pagans, but for the born-again Christians, these holidays mean no more than a few days of rest. Spiritually speaking, they are not to be celebrated. These pagan holidays are for worldly people to celebrate; but for the righteous they hold no significance at all other than as days of rest.
However, whenever a holiday is around the corner, even we the righteous are prone to think according to its worldly meaning. As a result we will see our many shortcomings and our fleshly needs. When worldly people get together during these holidays, they try to show off themselves. And we the righteous also find ourselves displaying fleshly pride like them during these holidays, even if we did not have such a desire beforehand. We may also think we lack many necessities. Our hearts can be troubled like this on New Year’s Day or even on harvest festival. Once our thoughts incline towards the flesh, our orientation in life will turn towards its carnal direction. We will then see even more shortcomings in ourselves, our thoughts will succumb to its weaknesses, or we will fall into temptation. We should not let this happen to us.
I said all these things because a holiday is around the corner, but we the righteous should also make use of it and get some much needed rest. Since we don’t often get a break, we need to take advantage of these holidays. If it is at all possible, it would be ideal for the righteous to get together and rest. If we rather get together with sinners, we will just hear them boasting about what they have or have done, how successful their children are, how good their sons and daughters are to them, and so on. Hearing such stories will tempt us to desire after material things and be greedy over the carnal things of the flesh. Worldly people brag about themselves even as they have nothing to be proud of. However, when seen from a spiritual perspective, this is not what is important. We have to know that the righteous are truly successful. Moreover, even when seen from a carnal point of view, the righteous are no worse off than worldly people. It’s only because there are so many more fleshly people that the righteous feel ostracized. But the people of faith are self-confident even amongst these worldly people.
It Is Good for the People of God to Get Together, Consult with Each Other, and Rejoice Together
It’s good if we can get together as often as possible, and it’s even better if we can share our stories together. No matter how the people of the world tempt you with their sweet talking, I hope you will defend your heart and have a nice holiday. Just as birds of a feather flock together, sinners flock with sinners and the righteous flock with their fellow righteous people. Worldly people are so full of themselves even as they can’t take care of themselves. Such specters are repulsive to me, and so I don’t go to gatherings of my relatives during holidays. But I wish everyone here traveling for this holiday a safe and enjoyable trip. Resting is also doing the Lord’s work, and so I hope you all will get good rest.
I don’t think today’s sermon will go that well, since you are all probably thinking about getting together with your families for this holiday, and so I will make it short.
It’s written in today’s Scripture reading: “Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people.”
Lot, Abraham’s nephew, was living in the land of Sodom and Gomorrah, and war broke out in this tribal age. There were so many kings in those days. As the Bible says, “In the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations, that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar).”
What was the result of this war? The king of Sodom where Lot was living was defeated. So the triumphant army kidnapped Lot and plundered everything, including all his possessions. On hearing this, Abraham took 318 of his well armed and trained men and pursued the invaders as far as Dan. With these workers of God born and raised in his own house, he took back Lot with all his goods. So Abraham’s army was the strongest army, since it was able to defeat all these kings together and take back the spoils.
Abraham had many trained servants under him. So when he heard that war broke out and his nephew Lot was kidnapped and his possessions plundered, Abraham took these trained men who were born and raised in his own house, and with these workers of God he brought back Lot. This shows us that Abraham had a tribe of his own. And this tribe had no less than 318 well trained warriors. Abraham took these warriors, defeated the invading army and brought back Lot.
This was a great achievement, since each tribe of the invading army must have had at least a few hundred soldiers each. There are about 300 members in all our churches throughout Korea. None other than you and I are such workers of God. You and I are God’s servants and His workers. You and I are not of those who have gone out and tied themselves to this world, and been trained according to its standard, but rather we are of those who have been raised and trained in the House of God and His Kingdom, and who have become His workers and His servants. In short, we are not of those who belong to this world.
If Abraham had faced his enemy troops head on, he would have demolished and killed them all. Abraham not only had faith, but he also had trained men in his house. Abraham was a very organized man. The Bible says that thanks to these 318 men, Abraham was able to rescue his nephew Lot and take even more goods into possession than what Lot had lost.
We Are God’s Workers Raised and Trained in the House of God
I believe from the depth of my heart that not only I but also you are God’s workers raised and trained in His House. As God’s workers, I am sure that neither you nor I will ever tarnish the glory of God by being defeated by the currents of this world. You and I must realize and believe that we are God’s workers raised and trained in His House. In other words, you must realize who you are. As we carry on with our lives in this world, all of us must realize what kind of person we are, where we belong, and what we are set out to do. If we live in this world without realizing these things, we will be defeated by this world. For you to go into this sinful world and fight your battles, you must realize what I am saying here without fail. Only then will you be able to overcome the currents of this world.
My effort to preach the gospel in Korea has been limited, and I have instead devoted my attention and time in spreading the gospel overseas because many Christian leaders in Korea are too stubborn to listen to the Word. I am saying this as it is something that you have to consider this over this coming holiday. When you meet your family members and relatives, if what you hear from them makes sense, you can then agree with them. But an important question still remains: Where do you belong? Since you belong to the Kingdom of God, you cannot allow yourself to be won over by what your relatives say. You meet with your relatives over the holiday to catch up with them and to bear witness of the gospel with them. You are, in essence, going there to do God’s work, and so rather than being deceived by worldly people, you must return quickly after doing your work.
Just as God had asked Jonah who he was, we also must know who we are. We are God’s workers. We are not those who rejoice by the currents of this world, to smile at worldly people and receive what they offer us without a care. When you meet your relatives who have as yet not been born again, by all means you should treat them well rather than provoking ill feelings. But this is purely to preach the gospel; there is no other reason. After all, is there anything common that you are able to share with anyone who has not been born again? I am not just talking about fleshly things here. Rather, my point is that such fleshly people do nothing that is righteous.
Like the servants of Abraham, you and I are also God’s servants raised and trained in the House of God. You should live by faith with this realization. On this holiday—and on any other holiday—what you must keep in mind is that you should never live in accordance with the currents of this world. We have our own current to follow. Our current is one that preaches the gospel and saves souls.
How can we ever allow our hearts to flow with those who have not been born again? We can never flow with them. If we were to side with them, where would they hear the Word of salvation, the genuine gospel? Doing so would be akin to killing them with our own hands.
You and I are the salt and light of the world. If we were to act fleshly without following the gospel, the current of God’s Church, and His spiritual guidance, then we would be forsaking all these lost souls. All of us must grasp this clearly and live by faith. On this holiday, I ask you to keep your faith and defend your heart. At no time should you lose the sight of your identity as God’s worker. Even if it’s unavoidable for you to go out into the world and meet with the non-born again, you must always defend your heart at least. You must walk by faith; if you otherwise lose your heart and join in with the world, the consequences will be disastrous. You must endure all things by faith. There is so much work to do, from running our businesses to putting out advertisements, making banners, managing our website, and developing excellent waterproofing products.
We have compassion for those who have as yet not been born again, and so we try to preach the blessed Word to them, but their hearts have become so hardened. Sometimes we feel so frustrated that we don’t want to have anything more to do with them. However, my fellow believers, it is precisely in times like these that you must defend your hearts and never forget the fact that you are all God’s precious workers.