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Make the Most of Your Blessings

Notes & Transcripts

Old Testament Encounters with Christ

Part 5: Make the Most of Your Blessings

Genesis 14:1-20 (reading vs. 14-20)

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Dec. 21, 2011

BACKGROUND:

*The background for our Scripture is war between two groups of kingdoms: Four kings of the East against five kings of the plain, including Sodom. In the first war, Sodom and her allies were defeated by the four kings of the East. And vs. 4 tells us that they served for 12 years, but in the 13th year the five kings of the plain rebelled.

*John Phillips explained:

-“The five cities of the plain announced their intention of no longer paying tribute. Then came news of a great coalition of the kings of the east, soon followed by the news that a great army was on the march toward Sodom and her allies.

*The eastern coalition seems to have been very powerful. No doubt, the news of its approach caused quite a stir in Sodom, and the five kings of the plain joined together in an unholy alliance.

*It all seems so remarkably up-to-date. There was no thought of God, no repentance, no prayer, no spiritual awakening, just the formation of alliances and the outfitting of armies. . .

*Nation after nation went down (before the four kings of the east). Some of those nations were peopled by giants, but down they went.

-Those invaders were God’s scourge, the whip in His hand with which to chastise the filthy cities of the plain, in the hope that perhaps they would repent and thus be spared their ultimate doom. But Sodom and Gomorrah had no thought for repentance. Their only thought was to look to their alliance.” (1)

*So Sodom and her allies went to battle against the invading four kings from the east. And the Sodom alliance was utterly defeated. We read about this starting in vs. 10:

10. 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.

11. Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way.

12. They also took Lot, Abram's brother's son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

13. Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, for he dwelt (in the plain) of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner; & they were allies with Abram.

*With this background in mind, let’s read about Abram’s encounter with the king and priest named Melchizedek. We see this encounter in vs. 14-20. (By the way, His name sounds strange, but it simply means “My King is Right!” or “My King is Righteousness.”)

14. 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.

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him.

18. Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.

19. And he blessed him and said: "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;

20. And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And he gave him a tithe of all.

INTRODUCTION:

*One of the most important things to see about Abram’s meeting with Melchizedek is that Abram was blessed. But so are we!

*Christians, we are blessed! -- The more we learn about God’s goodness, the more we can see that we have been blessed in amazing ways. God loves to bless his people! -- But how can we make the most of our blessings?

1. First, we should rally to help other people. -- We are blessed to be a blessing to other people.

*Last time we saw some amazing blessings that God promised to Abram. In Genesis 12:2-3, the Lord said:

2. “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.

3. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

*God promised blessing on top of blessing for Abram. But in these promises, we see that Abram was blessed so that he could be a blessing to others.

*And here in Genesis 14, Abram took a bold stand to help his nephew Lot. Abram didn’t have to do that. He could have played it safe. He could have rationalized Lot’s trouble. After all, Lot had chosen the selfish, worldly way by living with the wicked people of Sodom. Abram could have said, “That’s what Lot gets for surrounding himself with those wicked people from Sodom!”

*But no, vs. 14 tells us that: “When Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his 318 trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.”

*Abram didn’t have to do it. But he knew he was blessed so that he could be a blessing to others.

*Then in vs. 15-16:

15. 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.

16. 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.”

*How did that happen?

-I don’t know how big the enemy army was, but they had conquered many cities.

-How in the world did Abram win such a complete victory with only 318 men?

*Well, he did it the same way that Gideon’s army of 300 defeated an army of 135,000. The Lord was on their side!

*There is no way they could have won without God’s help.

-Melchizedek made this clear to Abram down in vs. 20, when he told Abram, “Blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”

*God blesses us to be a blessing to others. And most of us will never rescue someone in a war. But some of us might already have. And right now there are thousands of soldiers serving and risking their lives for us. Thank God for them!

*And remember that there are many ways we can be a blessing to other people: Visits to the nursing home, greeting people at church, serving in the nursery, singing in the choir. The list could go on and on. There are many ways we can be a blessing to other people.

*One unusual example comes from a friend of ours named Terry. This man has supplied us with firewood for at least 7 or 8 years. Starting in November, he will come by the house every month or so to make sure we have plenty of wood. And he tries to come by when we are not home, so I don’t have to help him unload the wood.

*Terry likes to give us firewood. He gets a kick out of it. Sometimes he even blows the leaves off our driveway. Pretty amazing, right?

*I happened to be home when Terry came by Monday. Now this man is 68. He has chronic back pain, a bad knee, and really needs surgery on both shoulders. But as we unloaded the wood, he said, “You know, Judy and I were talking the other day about how much we have been blessed.”

*There is a man who knows we were blessed to be a blessing to other people.

-How can we make the most of our blessings? -- Rally to help other people.

2. But also recognize God’s greatness. -- Always remember that we are blessed by someone infinitely greater than us.

*Genesis 14 reminds us of this truth in vs. 17-20:

17. And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him.

18. Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.

19. And he blessed him and said: "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;

20. And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand. . .”

*As we explore these verses we will find that the greatest blessing Abram received here was not the victory he won. The greatest blessing was the visit Abram received from Melchizedek. But who was this Melchizedek who showed up at a crucial time for Abram?

*We don’t see Him again until Psalm 110:4. There David wrote something the Heavenly Father says to His Son the Messiah: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”

*Hebrews 5:6-10 shows us that this prophecy of an everlasting priesthood was fulfilled in Jesus Christ:

6. As He (i.e. God) also says in another place (to the Christ): “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek;”

7. who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear,

8. though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.

9. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,

10. called by God as High Priest "according to the order of Melchizedek,''

*But who was Melchizedek? -- Hebrews 7 explains:

1. For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,

2. to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated "king of righteousness,'' and then also king of Salem, meaning "king of peace,''

3. without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.

*Who was Melchizedek? -- There are other theories, but I agree with Matthew Henry who said: “Many Christian writers have thought that this was an appearance of the Son of God himself, our Lord Jesus, known to Abram, at this time, by this name.

*He appeared to (Abram) as a righteous king, owning a righteous cause, and giving peace. It is difficult to imagine that any mere man should be said to be without father, without mother, and without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life. It is likewise difficult to think that any mere man should, at this time, be greater than Abram in the things of God. . .” (2)

*So Hebrews 7:7 says Abram the lesser was blessed by Melchizedek the better, Melchizedek the greater, Melchizedek the pre-incarnate Christ, the greatest of all! -- He is our Lord and our God!

-And Genesis 14:18-20 shows us three ways that our God is great.

[1] First, we see that God holds the greatest place.

*Three times He is called “God Most High.” That is the greatest place. And that same passage in Hebrews 7 that talks about Melchizedek also said this:

24. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood.

25. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them.

26. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;

*Jesus Christ is “higher than the heavens”! He holds the greatest place.

[2] And in Genesis 14:19, He is the greatest possessor. He is “God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth.”

[3] But vs. 18 reminds us that He paid the greatest price: “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine.”

*We know that the bread and wine represented the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. -- And we will take the Lord’s Supper this Christmas Sunday.

*But isn’t it great that even here in the first book of the Bible that God reminds us of the cross! And the same passage in Hebrews 7 that talks about Melchizedek also said that: He “does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices . . . for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.” (Heb 7:27) Thank God for the Blood of Jesus Christ!

*Michael Milton exalted the cross with these words:

-“Critics have called Christianity a bloody religion. Dr. Delores Williams, Professor of Theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City was spewing heresy at a conference a few years back when she said these words: ‘I don't think we need a theory of atonement at all. I don't think we need folks hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff.’”

*Then Michael said: “If I had been the president of that seminary, she would be gone or I would be gone. Alas, she is still there.

*But let's just interact with her heresy for a moment. We cannot deny that what Jesus (did on the cross) is weird to man. We cannot deny that the prophecies of the Christ are weird, with salvation coming from a servant who suffers and dies for His people.

*But this is not your universe. It is God's. And atonement is God's idea.

*I will admit it is weird to have God hanging on a cross and His precious blood dripping down his sinless brow.

-But this weirdness to man is the wonder of God.

-It is the glory of God.

-It is the hope of this filthy sinner.

-I have no other way to God but through that cross.” (3)

*The greatest blessing we can ever receive comes through the greatest price ever paid: the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins.

*How can we make the most of our blessings? -- Recognize God’s greatness.

-Always remember that we are blessed by someone infinitely greater than us.

3. But also repay God’s tithe.

*Remember that we are blessed to give back to God.

-In the end of Genesis 14 we see that Abram did not take a dime of the spoils of war. But vs. 20 tells us that Abram did give Melchizedek a tithe of all. God’s basic plan for giving to His work has always been the tithe: 10% of our income.

*This is the very first time the Bible mentions the tithe. But His Word speaks about our giving many times. And perhaps the strongest passage on tithing is in the last book of the Old Testament. Listen to Malachi 3:8-12:

8. "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, `In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings.

9. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.

10. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now in this,'' says the Lord of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.

11. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,'' says the Lord of hosts;

12. And all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,'' says the Lord of hosts.

*Here the Lord God commands us to tithe. And He promises to bless us when we do tithe.

*I can think of 3 other good reasons to tithe.

[1] It reminds us where all of our blessings come from.

[2] It reminds us that all of our stuff really belongs to God.

[3] And it helps carry out the most important work in the world.

*God wants us to be faithful in our giving, because we are giving to Him and His Kingdom work.

*Pastor Dean Rucker was inspired by something his 4-year-old son said. At the time Dean was the pastor of Sunset Point Baptist Church in Clearwater, FL. And he was teaching 4-year-old son Blaze to tithe.

*Part of Dean's Sunday morning schedule was preparing Blaze's offering. He gave Blaze a dollar to put into an offering envelope with his name on it to give during his Sunday School class.

*One Sunday, Blaze put the dollar in the envelope, licked and sealed it. -- Then in all seriousness, he turned to his Dad and asked, “Is God going to open it?” (4)

*We need to be faithful in our giving, -- as faithful as we would be if God Himself was going to open our envelopes, because we are blessed!

-Blessed for the good of others...

-Blessed by someone infinitely greater than we are...

-And blessed to give back to God.

1. Adapted from “Exploring Genesis” by John Phillips - p.126-127

2. Adapted from “Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible” - Genesis 14:17-20

3. Adapted from ChristianGlobe.com sermon “In the Cross of Christ We Glory” by Michael A. Milton - Mark 8:31-9:1 - (Milton’s source: Christian Century, "Christ Crucified" by S. Mark Helm, March 7, 2001, www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1058/is_8_118/ai_72094707#continue.)

4. From “Fresh Illustrations” by James Wilson - www.freshministry.org (08-08-00)

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