That’s What Faith Is

14 The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

18 So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord. Genesis 13:14-18

Once again we find Abram setting up an altar to worship. The Lord had reiterated a fabulous promise, and Abram responded accordingly. Even though Abram didn’t have a clue how the Lord would fulfill that promise, he built the altar by faith, knowing that God would make good on His promises. It’s the very definition of faith.

Rarely are we asked to take large steps of faith. No, normally we must take multiple small steps that lead up to the big step.

What is God asking you to do in faith today? Are you resisting? Is it more than you can handle?

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Lot Chose Poorly

10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord. Genesis 10-13

By that time, everyone had known about the true Sin Cities, Sodom and Gomorrah. It had already escalated to “flood the earth” proportions. But the lands looked good to Lot. He had to know about those two cities.

Lot chose poorly.

Or perhaps he thought he chose wisely. Perhaps he would be satisfying his carnal nature and could live the Sodom lifestyle. After all, Abram gave him a choice. Why wouldn’t he want to feed his desires? He obviously wasn’t thinking about his family or wealth. Or maybe he thought his wealth made him indestructible.

In any event, Lot chose a land that would give him great sorry and pain in the end. In fact, we can’t think of the name Lot without associating it with a negative thought.

Any point along his journey he could have gone a different direction. He was a powerful man among his people, and they would have followed him wherever he thought they should go.

Lot chose poorly, and never considered changing courses.

Fortunately we can learn from Lot’s mistakes. We can changes directions when we know we are going astray, but do we? The longer we go astray, the further off course we get until we are not even close to our destination.

But it also takes humility to admit you’re wrong.

We certainly need discernment in the decisions we make throughout the day. Granted, not every decision is like Lot’s, but we still need wisdom from above.

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Agreeing to Disagree

5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.

8 So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.” Genesis 13:5-9

God had blessed both Abram and his nephew Lot materially. It was time to part ways on friendly terms. though having their herdsmen fight against each other was leaving a bad witness for those in the surrounding villages (Canaanites and Perizzites – villagers). The villagers were probably envious of their wealth and put the two families in danger. That’s why they both had to leave.

Knowing when to “quit” is not always easy in life. We love our comfort zones. I’ve been in a few jobs where I should have looked a lot harder for different work, but I was comfortable. I didn’t need to leave, but I should have. It was dragging me down and robbing me of true joy.

Whether it’s an ongoing disagreement, an unpleasant job situation, or an external relationship that is eating away at your soul and sapping you of energy, knowing when to just walk away from discernment that has to come from God sometimes. Ask Him for the wisdom, and let Him lead you.

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Random Acts of Worship

So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. 2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.

3 From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier 4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord. Genesis 13:1-4

Abram and his family returned to Bethel, the place he set up an altar. What did he do there? He worshipped.

He called on the Lord for seemingly no reason at all. That’s how it should be. If we only lived by that notion, our lives would be much fuller and richer. We’d appreciate life more, our family and friends more, our freedoms, our spiritual lives, you name it. Even our sorrows and heartaches would be more bearable with seemingly random acts of worship.

What does that look like in everyday life?

  • Turning off the radio in the car and talking with God.
  • Filling your mind with Bible verses and songs
  • Raising your hands and lifting your heads toward heaven throughout the day.

But it could also look like this:

  • Doing small things for the needy or elderly that they’d never be able to repay
  • Visiting the elderly in a nursing home and reading Scripture to them
  • Praying for someone you know needs your prayer

The list is as endless as your imagination. One simple question to ask, would God smile down on your action and encourage you to do more of it?

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Blunders, Foibles, and God

17 But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” 20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had. Genesis 12:17-20

I often wonder why the Lord didn’t punish Abram instead of Pharaoh. After all, it wasn’t Pharaoh’s fault what Abram did.

At any rate, the Pharaoh figured out quickly what Abram’s game was. He wanted nothing to do with Abram and Sarai. Abram got what he wanted but what did it cost him? Some really bad things could have happened to Sarai. Can you imagine the conversation leaving Pharaoh? Abram deserved the silent treatment for a few years over that blunder.

Fortunately, they both made it away safely, and with safe passage.

Even in our blunders, God can set things anew. It’s not always guaranteed that the Lord will bail us out of bad situations, especially ones that we cause. Often we have to learn about consequences first. Sometimes those consequences are punishment enough.

In reality, though, God saved us from huge blunders in our lives, causing most of the problems we encountered. We were headed our own way when God intervened. Yes, He intervened in a big way. So while it is very easy to criticize Abram for his actions, we really should turn more towards God Himself because He intervened in Abram’s life.

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. –Romans 5:8

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Get To It

14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. 15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels. Genesis 12:14-16

Abram got what he wanted but at Sarai’s expense. In fact, Abram made out financially on the transaction.

I recall a quote by Billy Graham, “If you gain the whole world but lose your soul, was it worth it?”

Was it worth it, Abram? Were the animals you gained and the safety you enjoyed worth it to you? Were you at all concerned about what would happen to your wife when you put her in such a terrible position? Did you have an ounce of remorse when you did that, or even when you accepted all those gifts? Did you even think it was wrong?

We obviously could not do a thing about Abram’s cruelty to his wife or any of the other injustices in the Bible, but We see injustice all around us if we open our eyes. We can’t do everything of course, but we can do one or two things.

You have probably been thinking about something an injustice in your town or neighborhood that you can sink your teeth into and help combat. Again, you can’t do it all, but you can do something. And we all should do something. Just one thing. Nothing heroic, but something that infuriates you when you think about it. You know what it is.

Get to it.

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What Was Abram Thinking?

9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

Abram in Egypt
10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”

There’s no way around this, Abram was a complete jerk.

Sure, God anointed him as the father of all nations, but you have to call them the way you see them.

Abram certainly didn’t win Husband of the Century award by saving his own skin at the expense of his wife’s.

It was not God’s intention for Abram to do this. He just got scared and took his eyes off of God.

As with anything in life, we can often learn more from the mistakes of others than their successes. This falls under How Not to Treat Your Wife – 101 class.

Here are some things we can learn from this situation.

  • Men (and women) of God sin.
  • Abram, though the father of all nations, was not perfect.
  • A half-truth is still a lie.
  • Trusting God means trusting Him when you don’t see a way out.
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Go To Him

8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. Genesis 12:8-9

We’re beginning to see a theme emerge here. Abram has found comfort in calling on the Lord. The altar he built here was probably more permanent because he returns to the place later. We don’t know how long he stayed in Bethel but the text suggests that it was longer than a night or two.

Are you comfortable with God? What I mean by that is, do you find it easy to just talk to God whenever you want? Or is it a struggle? Do you find yourself avoiding serious prayer time for whatever reason?

If prayer and talking with God doesn’t come easy, then you’re not alone.

If prayer were easy we would never stop praying. As it is we get distracted, and caught up into what He might think about what we say and ask for.

Or perhaps we really don’t know what to say.

Or maybe sin is hindering us from coming to Him.

The solution, of course, is simple.

Go to Him. He knows what you’re going to say even before you think it. He knows everything in your life. Everything.

That’s it, go to Him.

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The Habit of Gratefulness

4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him. Genesis 12:4-7

Abram, his family and many others traveled about 400 miles to Canaan, and then about as far to Shechem. The Lord told Abram again that He would bless him. Just as Noah did when he disembarked from the ark, Abram made an altar to make a sacrifice to the Lord. It’s a simple response from a grateful heart.

Perhaps – just perhaps – if we stopped to give thanks when we are blessed, we’d get irritated at the little things less, we’d smile more often, and we’d learn to love the unlovely. There is no “downside” to doing giving thanks, but it take effort on our parts. Scientists say it takes 21 days to form a habit. If we started now, it could be a full-fledged habit by the first of June.

What are you thankful today for?

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