WORSHIP GUIDE |

January

14

-

January

15

,

2023

The Rear-View Mirror

A message from
Senior Pastor Josh Laxton

Genesis 19:1-38(NIV)

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Genesis 19:1-38(NIV)

Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed

1 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”

“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”

3 But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. 4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

9 “Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.

10 But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. 11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.

12 The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”

14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”

16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

18 But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! 19 Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. 20 Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”

21 He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.)

23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.

29 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.

Lot and His Daughters

30 Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. 31 One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children—as is the custom all over the earth. 32 Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.”

33 That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and slept with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

34 The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I slept with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” 35 So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went in and slept with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

36 So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. 37 The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. 38 The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.


Worship Focus

Digging Deeper

THIS WEEK'S Bible study

DIG DEEPER HERE +

The Rear-View Mirror

Key Bible Verses

  • Genesis 19:1-38
  • Luke 17:26-33
  • Luke 9:57-62
  • Matthew 13:22
  • Matthew 7:21

Sermon Quotes

From  Pastor Josh Laxton

“Don’t look back when God tells you to move forward.”

“Today, will you truly repent of your sin, living life your way, longing for the pleasures of this world?  Will you leave your sin and live for your Savior?  Will you turn your back on hell and turn your face toward heaven?”

“I have decided to follow Jesus;

I have decided to follow Jesus;

I have decided to follow Jesus;

No turning back, no turning back.”   From the hymn, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.”

“We need to be focused on God’s mission: to be a blessing to all families of the earth interceding on behalf of the lost.”

DIGGING DEEPER

Jeremiah 29:11 states, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 

As we look at moving forward in our lives, this verse is encouraging on many levels.  

God’s plans for us are:

  • To prosper us
  • To not harm us
  • To give us hope 
  • To give us a future

As we live our lives, we know that it is God who directs our steps forward.  

A biblical example of moving forward in faith was Abraham. God told Abraham to leave the place where he was living with his family and go to a new land that God would give to him. This involved Abraham moving forward from his present circumstances to go to an unknown future place that God would take him to. This movement from the present into the future was not easy for Abraham.  It was tough going. Abraham faced famine, traveling through hostile territories, threats to his family and disputes with his ungodly neighbors. Abraham did not have all the answers, but he believed God and was faithful as he moved forward and not backward.  

Another example of moving forward in faith was Noah. Looking at Noah’s circumstances, it would be very strange for anyone to build a large boat in the middle of dry land.  But Noah did build an ark on dry land to God’s specifications, and Noah did not look back. God knew the future and was preparing a way for Noah and his family to escape the great flood that would be coming on the earth because of the great wickedness that had overtaken the world. 

There are also examples in the Bible of people who started to move forward but ended up looking back and it did not go well. As we learned in the sermon this week, Lot’s wife was one of these examples. When she was fleeing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, she disobeyed God and looked backward at the life she had, and not at the life God had planned for her future, and she turned into a pillar of salt.

The disciples also had a clear call from Jesus to move from their past as fishers of fish to going forward as fishers of men.  When Jesus called them, they left their professions and became Jesus’ disciples. It is interesting that after Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead, even though Jesus appeared to them on several occasions, the disciples made a decision to go back and resume fishing for fish.  It could have been that they were hungry, needed to make some money, or were looking for something to do, but nevertheless they went back to catching fish. Their fishing expedition was not very successful until Jesus appeared to them and told them to recast their nets.  But in addition to telling them to recast their nets so they would catch 153 fish, Jesus used this time to refresh and remind them that they had a greater forward-looking purpose, to fish for men and to be shepherds and leaders in His Kingdom.  

We also need to be looking forward in order to see and not miss what God has in store for us. Our desire needs to be to fulfill God’s divine plans for us (like the future plans God had for Abraham and Noah) and not to revert to going or even looking backward. The past and even the status quo aren’t God’s best for us and what God has in mind for our future. God has mighty plans that require us to move forward, growing in faith and embracing the future, as we have faith and trust in Him for our next steps.  As we read the Bible, pray, listen to God, and seek godly counsel, God will faithfully reveal the exciting future He has in store for us.  

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 in the message Bible states:  “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”

WHAT NOT TO MISS

Don’t look back when God tells you to move forward.

Five categories of people regarding looking back:

  1. There are those who don’t move forward because their past is their future.
  2. There are those who don’t move forward because they don’t believe there is a future.
  3. There are those who move forward but can’t let go of the past. 
  4. There are those who attempt to move forward but their longing for the past destroys them from moving into the future.
  5. There are those who move forward because they’ve focused on the Lord of the future.

Looking back has to do with how people view and respond to:

  • Sin
  • The world
  • God’s wrath and judgment 
  • God’s salvation, deliverance, redemption
  • (Obedience) What it means to follow God, to be righteous, and to live in the world 

To look forward:

  • Confess your sin
  • Pursue holiness
  • Stop listening to gossip
  • Stop participating in slander
  • Start building up
  • Stop sexual sin
  • Quit blaming everyone else for your problems

We are not to cling to:

  • Pleasures and wealth
  • Name and notoriety
  • Title and position
  • Greed and your glory
  • Your way or the highway
  • Grudges and winning

Picture of Salvation (Genesis 19:17):

  • Flee from sin and God’s wrath.
  • Focus on mercy, grace, and deliverance.
  • Follow God full steam ahead in the new life he has for you.

Key questions to ask:

  • Will you repent of your sin, living your way, longing for the pleasures of the world?
  • Will you leave your sin and live for your Savior?
  • Will you turn your back on hell and turn your face towards heaven?

The only category we want to be a part of is the category of those who move forward because they’ve focused on the Lord of the future.

  • Safe from the wrath to come
  • Calm in the midst of calamity
  • Order in the midst of chaos
  • Conscience is free
  • Concerned with other believers
  • Not debating God on what you want to do versus what he told you to do; totally surrendered to the direction and prompting of God
  • Focused on God’s mission: to be a blessing to all families of the earth

We must be interceding on behalf of the lost and the target of God’s wrath,  being in the world but not of it.

Don’t look back when God tells you to move forward!

Life Application

During this week, reflect by doing a self assessment of anything that is holding you back from moving forward in your life with God, your church and with others.  Consider areas of sin like sexual sin, gossip, slandering others, unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, jealousy, pride, etc. Think about ways you can set your face fully turned toward heaven.  Ways to strengthen your forward movement might include studying the Bible, joining a class or group, finding a mentor, or seeking godly counsel.  If you need help moving forward, there are opportunities for assistance at Northland by connecting with a Minster on Duty, Stephen Minister, or Counseling Resources. (See Additional Resources Section below.)

Also during this week, make it your mission to look forward and focus on Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Pray that God will reveal to you ways you can be totally surrendered and obedient to the forward direction and prompting of God. Is there someone you need to call or text to tell them you love them? Do you know a person who might be in need in some area of their life where you can offer help? What might be some little acts of kindness and love you could do today? Can you pray for your neighbor and see opportunities to share the good news of the Gospel with them?

Small Group Discussion Questions

  • What is something that you are looking forward to doing this year? (i.e. vacation, graduation, finishing a major project, learning something new, etc.)
  • What is something that you need to stop believing or doing or let go of that is holding you back from moving forward in your relationship with God, your church, and with others?
  • In what areas of your life do you see and feel God leading you forward?  
  • What spiritual doors to the future do you want to open up?  (i.e. reading the Bible, joining a small group, journaling, taking a class, praying more, etc.)
  • As you turn your face forward-looking toward heaven, what is one thing you can do this week to be on mission for God as you are a blessing to others God places in your life? 

Daily Devotional Bible Passages

  • Monday - Move Forward by Pressing On- Philippians 3:12-14; Proverbs 4:25; Exodus 14:15-16
  • Tuesday - Move Forward by Not Looking Back- Isaiah 43:18; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Luke 9:62
  • Wednesday - Move Forward by Being Obedient- Proverbs 3:5-6; Job 17:9; Proverbs 16:3; Genesis 22:18
  • Thursday - Move Forward by Trusting and Resting in God-Matthew 6:27; Proverbs 3:5-6; Luke 1:37; Isaiah 26:3
  • Friday - Move Forward Toward our Divine Purpose- Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 12:2; John 3:16

Prayer

Lord, we desire to look forward knowing that the future is in your hands. Help us to trust you as we embrace the future and as we step out in faith and look to you for direction and guidance. We want to be people who are open and not afraid to step forward, not looking back, for we know that you go forward with us and you have amazing things in store for us. Let us demonstrate how much we love you, love our church and love others as we are obedient to you and to your word so that others will be drawn to faith in Jesus. In these exciting days, as we look forward to the future you have in store for Northland Church, let us continue to dream big dreams and be on mission for you, reaching our neighbors and nations as we share the good news of King Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.   

Additional Resources

Connect with a Minister on Duty

Connect with a Stephen Minister

Connect with Counseling Resources 

–Hymn - I Have Decided to Follow Jesus 

About This Sermon Series


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