Sunday Gathering – Genesis – Getting Involved – Aiden Lugg
April 14, 2024

Sunday Gathering – Genesis – Getting Involved – Aiden Lugg

Passage: Genesis 14


This sermon explores the story of Abraham rescuing his nephew Lot from captivity in Genesis 14. Aiden uses this story to provide guidance on how to deal with difficult situations in our own lives, emphasizing the importance of faith, community, and the potential impact of our actions.

Key Points:

  • The Battle of Nine Kings: Aiden summarizes the story of Abraham leading a rescue mission to save his nephew Lot, who was captured during a battle between five kings and four eastern kings.
  • A Lot at Stake: The title of the sermon refers to the high stakes involved in Abraham's situation. This is used as a springboard to discuss the challenges we face in our own lives.
  • Reacting to Challenges:
    • Keep Calm: Aiden emphasizes the importance of maintaining a sense of calm in difficult situations. This calmness is not simply a feeling, but a deep-rooted trust in God's sovereignty and goodness.
    • Assemble Your Team: We are not meant to face challenges alone. Building a strong community of support is crucial.
    • Consider the Ripple Effect: Our actions and decisions can have a significant impact on others, both positively and negatively.


  • Modern Airplane Stories: Aiden shares personal stories of missed flights to highlight how the stakes can change our perspective on a situation.
  • Cuban Missile Crisis: The story of Vasily Arkhipov, a Soviet Navy officer who potentially prevented nuclear war, is used as an example of staying calm under pressure.
  • World Trade Center Rescue: The teamwork displayed in the aftermath of 9/11 is used to illustrate the importance of a strong support system.
  • Grandmother's Ministry: The story of Aiden's grandmother who started a children's ministry that continues to impact many lives demonstrates the far-reaching effects of our actions.

Call to Action:

The sermon concludes by encouraging listeners to reflect on how they can apply these principles from Abraham's story to their own lives in dealing with challenges and making a positive impact on others.

Bible References:

  • Genesis 14 (primary passage)
  • Acts 7 (story of Stephen)



Thank you Rowland. All that's loud. I'm sure he won't mind me saying this, but a couple
of weeks ago I was in awe of Darren. A full 10 days before he was due to preach, he'd
sent round his PowerPoint, he'd primed the team who were leading the service and he had
everything ready. So I resolved that I would learn from his example and I would do the
same. Long story short, I sent my PowerPoint to Pete yesterday. So thank you Pete. Appreciate
that. There's not here is he? This morning we're looking at the Battle of the Nine Kings
in Genesis 14. It's got a couple of other titles as well. If I could have my first slide
please James. Other titles include The Battle of the Veil of Sidim or The Slaughter of That
Place. We have a catchier title to follow, so don't feel like you need to write any of
those down. And I'm going to be breaking the mold a little bit because I'm not going
to read the passage in its entirety on the proviso that you go home and read it this
afternoon because it's such a short passage but there's so much to unpack in it. And the
reason I'm doing that is twofold. The first is there's lots of difficult words to pronounce
and the second more serious one is that sometimes, I might just be speaking for myself, when
you read the Bible word for word, I sometimes lose track of the fact that this is a real
event happening to real people many years ago and sometimes I can fall into the trap
of treating it a bit like a fairy story or a bit like a novel that isn't this interesting
but actually this is a real thing that happened to Abraham and the people at that time. And
just to kind of help us with that, I've transposed what happened or tried to transpose what happened
onto a modern day map so we can kind of understand where this is happening, where this is taking
place. And what happens is we have five kings sort of around the Dead Sea region and there's
uprising that goes on there and in response to this uprising four eastern kings, the four
eastern facing, west facing arrows, from sort of Kuwait, southern Iraq and Syria region
go to try and quash these rebellions and around the Dead Sea area there's this big battle,
the battle of the nine kings. In these five kings that we've got, the point is going to work on
there, you've got the kings of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, cities which I'm sure you may have
heard of but we'll come up later on, back one. And as this battle is going on the four eastern
kings plunder the five cities that they've gone to quash and in doing so they take away
a lot, Abraham's nephew, as well as lots of other people and lots of possessions.
When Abraham hears that lot has been taken, he immediately gathers 318 trained men from
his household and sets out to rescue his nephew, Abraham, and his band of brothers reach a
city called Dan, which is just in sort of East, sorry Northern Israel. And when they get there
they stop for the night and they plot what they're going to do next. And they sort of
build this plan and then they go in and they attack the kings who have taken a lot. And
what they do is they then chase them up to the further Black Dot which is just near Damascus
and then they chase them on further and they completely route these four eastern kings and
they retrieve all of the stuff that they've taken as well as lot and as well as the other
hostages that they took and they bring them back.
So I hope you're still with me after that and I guess here comes the catchier title for
the note takers amongst us. The title is A Lot at stake, Genesis 14.
I try little play on words you think, but actually I really feel that there's much more
from this passage that we can take both in the world that we're looking at.
And I think that the list of wars is endless. The list of civil wars is endless. The list
of problems that our world is facing is seemingly endless, but also about how we deal with our
own lives as well. How do we talk to people? How do we love people? How do we interact with
people when there is a lot at stake? I really think there's so much to unpack. If you look
at what's happening in Ukraine, Palestine, Congo, Myanmar, the list goes on and then you
spend five minutes on Twitter, you realise that everyone's an armchair expert and you switch
on the news and you've got Mr. Expert or Mrs. Expert giving their opinion on why this has happened
and what series of events led up to this and what will happen next. And there's all of this sort
of rhetoric that goes on and yet at the centre of it all there is suffering. People are dying,
families are going hungry, there is a lot at stake. And at the risk of beating this
tripe saying to death when we forget how much is at stake we run the risk of harming people
and hurting relationships in our own lives as well. So I'm packed this a little further and perhaps
set the scene of what I mean. I'm going to tell two short stories both of which involve me nearly
missing a flight. That's not a common occurrence and these were out of my control. The first one
I was travelling home from Zimbabwe with a friend and we were due to fly from Harari to Johannesburg
and then Johannesburg on to London. As we went through security in Harari a storm descended on
the airport and visibility was so low and as we sat in the departure lounge we watched our estimated
time of departure get ever further away and we only had three hours to play with in Johannesburg
and so that time was getting shorter and shorter and it quickly became apparent that we were at
risk of missing our flight. Friend said to me what are we going to do and I said well it's quite
simple if we do miss our flight the airport will sort us out because it's not our fault they'll put
us up in our hotel and then we'll fly out tomorrow evening instead. Neither of us had work to get
back for neither of us had any commitments to get back for and actually as we started to talk about
this I started to get a little bit excited about the prospect of staying in Johannesburg.
We would go to the Santa more we'd buy some swimming shorts relaxed by the hotel pool that
was paid for by the airline. It was actually quite exciting and then in a cruel twist of fate our
flight was called and we made it on time. Fast forward a couple of years and Meg and I were
travelling home from Zambia. We were due to stop over in Ethiopia and then fly onwards to Manchester.
We stopped in Ethiopia we had a meal and then we went to board our gate. We
beeped our boarding pass on the little scanner and there was kind of a warning noise and we
were ushered to one side and that was the the that was the extent of the information that was passed
to us. As we stood there waiting in the rapidly emptying departure hall I caught the unmistakable
glimpse of our plane pushing back and then departing to Manchester without us on it.
Ethiopia and Airways put us up in a hotel we had two nights in Ethiopia the difference was
that we were due to land back on a Sunday both of us had worked the following Monday both of us
were training to be teachers we were in our last term we both had assignments to finish
suddenly there's a lot more at stake and that definitely influenced our levels of anxiety our
levels of stress when dealing with this situation and that's the kind of difference I want to draw
out when we're looking at things today. Life is different our reactions are different yet we
need to be so careful when a lot is at stake and I do hope none of us find ourselves in a situation
where our nephews have been carried off by four eastern kings even though this is happening around
the world today when you look at the suffering that's going on but nonetheless I believe that
Abraham gives us some handy tips for when we find ourselves in situations like this so this is
on that one there we are Abraham's guide for when there is a lot at stake point number one keep car
the 27th of October 1962 a Russian B-59 submarine meanders its way towards a patrol up the coast
of the USA the last message received from Moscow was pretty cryptic and commanded the vessel to
patrol the coast of the USA days have passed since the last message and there'd been no further
contact with Moscow the submarine had been able to pick up some radio signals that these have
not been particularly helpful and then they started to hear explosions these were only
signaling charges which were being dropped by the US Navy above to try and get the submarine to
surface but they didn't know that yet the captain of the submarine Valentin Savitsky concluded
that war must have broken out they were being fired on by the US Navy and the only plausible
course of action was to fire the T-5 torpedoes a submarine had in its arsenal these were nuclear
torpedoes and would have decimated major cities causing tens of thousands of deaths if not more
captain Savitsky was certain in what he needed to do but in order to launch those torpedoes he
needed the consent of two other members of his crew Ivan Maslenakov agreed that they needed to launch
and it all came down to Vasily Archipov an argument broke out amongst these three men and his archipof
calmly tried to convince the other two that they should not strike he held firm and eventually he
managed to convince them to surface the submarine at which point they were able to contact Moscow
and await further orders the captain eventually did what Vasily Archipov had asked him to do
and Vasily Archipov is now credited with single handedly avoiding nuclear war and the outbreak
of world war three this passage we're reading does not give us too many words but the indication I
get is that Abraham doesn't fret he doesn't flap he hears the news he collects himself
and then he formulates a plan on how he is going to go about this rescue mission
so how does that help us does this happen because Abraham is just a cool calm and collected guy
nothing phases him he's easy going i don't think so i think this happens because Abraham knows
the god in whom he believes and the god in whom he trusts when the storms are swirling
around his head when everything is working against him he does not get carried away
he does not know the fate of his nephew he knows that he's been kidnapped he knows that he's been
taken he does not know if he's still alive but he does know that his god is still sovereign he does
know that his god is still on the throne he does know that his god is still good and he does know that
his god is still watching over him just saying calm is pretty useless no stressful situation has
ever been dissipated by the words keep calm but this is a different calm i don't believe this is a
feeling of calm i believe this is a more of a state of calm i like to call it the but god factor
when steven's taken before the the judges in acts he is asked to defend himself and he gives
a defense and as part of it he gives the story of joseph joseph being
the guy who was sold into slavery by his brothers and taken to egypt and and all of that sort of
stuff uh steven says this because the patriarchs were jealous of joseph they sold him as a slave
into egypt but god was with him and rescued him from all his trouble troubles joseph was sold into
slavery but god and this is a common reprieve that we see throughout stories in the bible even
the easter story jesus was crucified and was laid in a tomb but god raised him the calm in these
situations that we face is not a feeling but a sure and certain understanding that the wind
and waves of life will buffer us they will come but god is still in control
point number two assemble 318 fighters perhaps quite not as literal as we see in the passage but
there's definitely a message in here about the power of the team that surrounds us and that's
why i've chosen to ride to Amsterdam with james hope you'll as part of my team we recently watched
the film the world trade center about the events that took place on september the 11th 2001 in new
york and this film follows two police officers who are part of a squadron that were sent in
to try and evacuate one of the towers while it was still burning they gather up all their gear
and they they start making their way towards the staircase they've got extra tanks for air because
it's going to take them hours to get up to the people who need them as they as they collect all
this gear they feel the building start to shake more debris starts to fall windows start to break
and then there's the the unmistakable crash of the building down coming down on their heads
they rush to the elevator shaft to try and protect them because it's an empty space
two of them make it that the others sadly don't and what happens is the building has fallen down
on their heads these two police officers are trapped by concrete and steel and they're stuck
and then suddenly everything goes quiet everything goes dark and it's just the two of them they're
hoping that someone hears them the whole day passes the towers collapsed in the morning the
whole day passes and in the evening the the search is called off everything goes quiet everything
goes dark yet above them in the rubble there is a single us marine who has a torch and a
conviction that he shouldn't stop looking and he starts clambering over the rubble shouting
if you can hear me say something bang something and he does this but i don't know how long it is
but there's a there's a period of time where he hears nothing at all and then the people below him
hear him shouting and they they twang a little piece of metal because they've got so much dust in their
lungs and he hears it so then he shouts again if that was you do that again do that again so they
do it again and eventually he pokes his torch through the hole and he sees these two police
officers in a moment he gathers a team of people with hydraulic machinery stretchers oxygen
torches ready to rescue these people while he's doing that he shouts down to them we are marines
and you are our mission we're coming for you long story short they open up the cavity that they're
in they pull them out they put them on a stretcher and there's this really moving
part towards the end of the film where there's a long line of people all over the rubble and
they're passing the stretcher with these men on person to person in that particular example
each person has their role to play there's the guy who found them he formulates the team there's
people who dive into the rubble and they they're they're they're pulling out bits of concrete
off these people's chests there's other people who are just holding torches that the other people
can see and then right at the end you have a long line of people each with their own life-saving
role to play passing the stretcher to the next person to get them the medical care that they need
each person has their role to play on this team each person has been chosen for a particular role
some people are diving into the rubble others are just holding torches and it's important in
our lives to identify those people that we can build a team with us it might not be 318
but it might just be one person either way we need those around us who can encourage us who can
build us up who can play their part in our mission the enemy will always seek to isolate us and
it's our responsibility to identify our 318 people and build each other up third point
there we are bring back the other people this is a rather subtle secondary story that's happening
alongside the main story of course lot is rescued but as the passage states in verse 16
he recovered all the goods and brought back his relative lot and his possessions together
with women and the other people and those that's kind of a secondary is just great lot is back
and all the other people have been brought back but actually when you dig into that the ripple
effect of lots rescue is huge on these women and other people as the bible describes them
they were taken off they didn't know what their future held and yet Abraham's mission to rescue
his nephew meant that all of these other people were liberated all of these women and other people
were free and in orchestrating his daredevil rescue Abraham completely changes the outcomes
for all of these other people and how we deal with the storms in our own lives
has a ripple effect on those around us on those and on those who we may never know
my grandmother on my mum's side my dad mentioned her last week it was a very small woman
four foot tall she used to call herself a bear of little brain which was a drastic understatement
when they lived in Ghana she began the children's ministry for the church of pentecost
the church of pentecost now has churches in over 60 countries and is absolutely huge
she wrote the syllabus and faithfully delivered it to a group of children when they first started
the church and then when she died in 2015 the children's ministry of the church of pentecost
which was still running elements of the curriculum that she'd written had over 750,000 members
many of whom probably do not know who Margaret Mills is but who are direct beneficiaries
of her faithful completion of her mission
the storms in our lives will affect those around us and in some cases they'll affect
generations to come and we always want that effect to be one of grace liberation and one that draws
people home to their loving father similar to Abraham's mission when he rescued Lot
so there we have it that is Abraham's three-step guide to dealing with solutions when there is a
lot at stake point number one keep calm this is not a feeling but it is a settled conviction
that no matter what is happening around us God is still good God is still for us God still loves
us God is still on our side point number two assembling our army of 318 the strength of our
team around us directly influences our mission and how we deal with it and it helps us deal
with the things that life throws us and then point number three when you bring Lot back
remember the other people as well our decisions our actions and our plans do affect other people
do have a ripple effect and we have the opportunity to be a life-changing liberating force
in the lives of those we come into contact with and what a privilege that is I'm going to close
there thank you Rowland thank you

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