THE PHONE RANG 50 TIMES

Genesis 4:8-10

 

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The Blood Relationship Between Two Siblings 

 

(Gen 4:8-10 NRSV)  Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let us go out to the field." And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. {9} Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" He said, "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?" {10} And the LORD said, "What have you done? Listen; your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground!

 

Cain & Abel were brothers - both had the same mother and father - both had the same blood - they were family, closest relatives, loved

Sibling Rivalry - Cain, the elder brother, killed Abel the younger;

 

God: "Where is your brother Abel?"

Cain (smartly): "Am I my brother's keeper?" 

 

   1.  "Keeper" = shamar - guardian, protector, watchman, savior

God's answer to Cain's question is, "Yes, you are to be your brother's savior, but you have become his killer!"

   2.  Are we the keepers of our brothers, our families?  Are we in some way responsible for the eternal life of those we love?  The answer is "Yes."

   3.  Have we done everything in our power to save our loved ones from the devil's hell of eternal death?  "What have you done?" God's question to Cain is God's question to us today - "What are we doing to prevent the death of our loved ones?"

 

The Gospel Limited to the Lost Sheep of Israel - Mat 10:5-6

 

(Mat 10:5-6 NRSV)  These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, {6} but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

 

Q: Why would Jesus tell them only to go to their own "lost sheep?" 

A: Because they would have natural compassion for their kind.

 

   1.  The land of Israel consists of about 15,600 square miles - Less than the size of the Florida panhandle from Pensacola to Marianna.  Without Samaria, take away 1/3 of that.  Israel was a small area to cover. 

   2.  Strict account was kept of family relations all over Israel - all divided into "houses" or "12 tribes." Everyone knew their kin all over the country - extended families stayed in touch even before the invention of the telephone.

   3.  Just as Andrew went first to his brother Simon to tell about Jesus, the Apostles were going out first to their own people, preaching "Repent, for the Kingdom is at hand!"  Jesus sent them to their own first, before going out to others.

   4.  We are sanctified to be the keepers, protectors, saviors of our families.  We are responsible for the lost sheep who bare the same last names as we.  It's our responsibility to do everything in our power to win them to life everlasting.

   5.  The apostles were spreading GOOD NEWS in difficult times.  But we often consider spreading the Gospel to our families as BAD NEWS in smooth times.  There is bad news both then and now.  God's wrath will be poured out on earth.  But the good news is still the same.  We may be saved from God's wrath if we choose the narrow way.  It is to that path we must lead our dear ones.

   6.  But we're so put off by what we consider to be hassling, nagging, inviting, compelling.  We'd just as soon shirk our responsibilities to God!  But one mother I know cared so much about her daughter's salvation that she wouldn't quit.  Here is her testimony:

 

One mother invited her daughter for church over and over.  The daughter finally conceded under the condition that mother wake her up and drive her to church Sunday morning.  When Sunday morning came, the mother called to wake her daughter up.  After 10 rings, the mother was about to give up hope.  After 20 rings, she found her resolve.  After 30 rings, she began to rebuke the devil.  After 40 rings, she claim her daughter again for the Kingdom of God.  After 50 rings, the daughter answered the phone with the words, "I thought you'd give up but you didn't.  I'll be ready in 45 minutes."

 

Is this church service full of family members?  No.  Are we concerned?  Yes, we are!  Why so much concern and so little action when someone's eternity is at stake?  This daughter's positive response to the worship service that Sunday certainly validated her mother's effort in "holding on the line" for a few more minutes.

 

Too Late For the Dead - Luke 16:19-31

 

(Luke 16:19-28 NRSV)  "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. {20} And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, {21} who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. {22} The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. {23} In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. {24} He called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.' {25} But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. {26} Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.' {27} He said, 'Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father's house-- {28} for I have five brothers--that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.'

 

   1.  The rich man, being tormented in Hades, was concerned that his brothers might share his fate.  This man held slaves.  He never needed to doing anything himself - he always sent his slave to do the work.  He doesn't ask father Abraham if he can go to his brothers, but he asks Abraham to send his old slave Lazarus.

   2.  Who will be the savior of your family?  You must take on the responsibility.  If you are expecting some poor little Lazarus to interest your family in the things of God, you are going to be sadly disappointed.  It is your primary ministry to win you husband, children, grandchildren to Christ, even if it means being tough.

   You may be bound for the Third Heaven.  But to get there, you must pass through the Second Heaven, where Hell is located.  You will certainly have a spectacular view of Hell as you pass through.  Once you've reached the Third Heaven, you will by no means be able to tell your loved ones what you've seen in Hell; neither will you be able to "come back" to warn them about the torment, loneliness, and fiery torment which is to be theirs. 

   3.  It is my fervent prayer that when we ascend our heavenly thrones we will be spared having to peer down into the flames to see our brothers, sisters, and children afire.  Wouldn't it be so much more comforting to know that we'll have our loved ones with us for eternity?  If this is to be so, there must be an effort made.  We can't just trust blind providence.  No -- as the disciples were sent out to their kin, their brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers, so also are we.

 

Our Time is Short

   1.  Some of us have learned hard lessons through untimely deaths: we've learned that death is a reality and it is once and for all time.  And some form of hell eventually follows death.  If we are right honest with ourselves, we know that some of those we love most are on their way to Hell.

This is not the time for feeble excuses.  Nor, dare we like Cain, test God with the Cain's excuse, "He's not my responsibility."  For, while the couch at home is full, the church pews are empty.

   2.  No more excuses.  It's time for repentance.  It's time for discipleship training and soul-winning.  It's time to make a change of mind.  And it's time to act.  If, after all this time, you don't know how to lead someone to eternal life, this story will help:

   3.  George Sweeting, president of Moody Bible Institute, said that a woman once came to him in deep distress.  "I have been a Christian for 20 years," she told him, "Yet I'm not aware that I've ever led anyone to the Lord,  I've memorized many Scripture verses and know how to meet the objections of the unconverted.  But no one has ever made a decision for Christ.  Why hasn't God been using me?" 

   Wanting to help, he asked her a question, "Have you ever wept for the unsaved and prayed for their conversion?  Perhaps your failure hasn't been from a lack of knowledge but from a lack of love and commitment!  When a person has genuine compassion for the lost, she'll weep over them and yearn for salvation." 

   The woman then went to her room and began to pray earnestly for her sister.  Then, with a tender heart, she went to visit her. Putting her arms around her, she said with weeping, "Dear sister, more than anything in this world, I want you to meet the Lord Jesus!"  That evening during the church service her sister publicly received the Savior, asked for forgiveness, and was born again.

   4.  This is an example of what I call "do me a favor" soul-winning.  Jesus used this method because he had a burden of compassion for his loved ones and wasn't afraid to express it with an invitation.

   To live this story of a reconciled sister is a means by which we may right the wrong of Cain's irresponsibility and take Christ's yoke upon ourselves for our loved ones.  As a result of fervent prayer, God will placed a sore love burden on our hearts, causing us to yearn for salvation and lay down our pride, to ask the simple question, "Beloved, will you release me from my burden and come to Jesus?"

 

NOTES:

 

 Composed and preached 1/23 - 2/13/94.

 This mother is Joan Spain of Franklin, Georgia.

 

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