“It’s best to live where there is less evil drawing your kids away from what is right and good.” “Come with us to live in the country.” This was the advice we received as young parents. We didn’t heed the advice. We prayed but God led us to different paths. We didn’t regret following God’s leading for a minute. We continued to live, work, pray, love and serve God in the suburbs of a big city. As it turns out, evil is everywhere, even in the country. It’s what is in the heart that counts in the eyes of God no matter where you reside. Evil is defeated by falling on our knees, calling out in the Name of Jesus, no matter where you are. “Greater is He that is in me that he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
Abram is a man of extreme faith in God, who communes with God often and is led by God in everyday living. Have you noticed how Abram’s “worship place” goes with him everywhere he goes? At each place on Abram’s journey, he stops to build an altar, a place to give honor and praise with thanksgiving to God. God has blessed Abram in many ways. Abram has “many possessions”. Most of all, God has blessed Abram with character, integrity, and goodness because of those times of worship with Him. God has His Hand on Abram.
Now think about Lot, Abram’s nephew, who has come along for the ride. When it gets “crowded” in the country, due to having so much, quarrels break out about what land is their land for the sheep and cattle to graze. “This land is your land; this land is my land…” There really is a song lyric to explain everything in life! But I digress. Lot has essentially gleaned from Abram’s blessings from God, is also rich with livestock and possessions, but we wonder where his heart is when given the choice to choose what land he will reside in. His first thought was what would be better for him and he took it, leaving Abram “in the dust”.
Yes, The only one with wisdom to solve the problem and bring peace at all cost to himself is the one who communes with God. Do you hear Abram’s heart? “After all, we’re family”, says Abram. “Look around. Isn’t there plenty of land out there? Let’s separate. If you go left, I’ll go right; if you go right, I’ll go left.” What mattered most to Abram was peace. What mattered most to Lot was gaining more wealth. Lot chose “greener grass” that was well watered and even looked like “God’s garden”—Yes, that one! Lot takes all his family and possessions and sets out for “Bright Lights, Big City”, so to speak. Lot thinks he’s got it made. More later…
Abram takes the road less traveled—with God. “Get moving,” says God to Abram with yet another blessing, “Open your eyes, look around. Look north, south, east, and west. Everything you see, the whole land spread out before you, I will give to you and your children forever.”
How does Abram respond? He picked up his tent and moved. After settling in Hebron, he builds yet another altar to God. God is with Abram. Abram enjoys the Presence of God. This is the definition of blessing from God.
Genesis 13, The Message
1-2 So Abram left Egypt and went back to the Negev, he and his wife and everything he owned, and Lot still with him. By now Abram was very rich, loaded with cattle and silver and gold.
3-4 He moved on from the Negev, camping along the way, to Bethel, the place he had first set up his tent between Bethel and Ai and built his first altar. Abram prayed there to God.
5-7 Lot, who was traveling with Abram, was also rich in sheep and cattle and tents. But the land couldn’t support both of them; they had too many possessions. They couldn’t both live there—quarrels broke out between Abram’s shepherds and Lot’s shepherds. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living on the land at the time.
8-9 Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have fighting between us, between your shepherds and my shepherds. After all, we’re family. Look around. Isn’t there plenty of land out there? Let’s separate. If you go left, I’ll go right; if you go right, I’ll go left.”
10-11 Lot looked. He saw the whole plain of the Jordan spread out, well watered (this was before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah), like God’s garden, like Egypt, and stretching all the way to Zoar. Lot took the whole plain of the Jordan. Lot set out to the east.
11-12 That’s how they came to part company, uncle and nephew. Abram settled in Canaan; Lot settled in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent near Sodom.
13 The people of Sodom were evil—flagrant sinners against God.
14-17 After Lot separated from him, God said to Abram, “Open your eyes, look around. Look north, south, east, and west. Everything you see, the whole land spread out before you, I will give to you and your children forever. I’ll make your descendants like dust—counting your descendants will be as impossible as counting the dust of the Earth. So—on your feet, get moving! Walk through the country, its length and breadth; I’m giving it all to you.”
18 Abram moved his tent. He went and settled by the Oaks of Mamre in Hebron. There he built an altar to God.
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WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
Abram was a man led by God. Abram had a close, intimate relationship with God. God gave Abram purpose and meaning for his life—the greatest blessing of all from God. So many times, we think we are “blessed” to pay all our bills with some money left over on any given payday. Being blessed in not about possessions. Our real payday of blessings comes with loving God in obedience with a heart that wants what God wants—growing Godly characteristics—to be more like Him in every way!
We have learned in our Genesis story of God that we are made “in the image of God”. Let’s revisit what this means. “Imago Dei’ is not so much something that man has as something that man is. Humankind was created to be a graphic image of the Creator — a formal, visible, and understandable representation of who God is and what He’s really like. John Piper writes, “The imago Dei is not a quality possessed by man; it is a condition in which man lives, a condition of confrontation established and maintained by the Creator.” Imago Dei is what is in man which constitutes him as him-whom-God-loves.
Abram fits the “image”! Abram is “blessed” with God-like, (godly) growing in him because of His close communion with God. The more we hang with certain friends, we become like them, right? It’s the same with God. Jesus said this to be true and model it to followers. Abram is also blessed with purpose and meaning for his life because of his obedience to God. Money cannot buy the peace that comes from knowing your standing, purposes and meaning with God.
Much later, we will learn about David, a shepherd boy called of God to be King, who was a described as a “man after God’s own heart.”
Read, think pray, live…
What is the condition of our hearts? It’s always good to have heart check-ups to ward off undue attacks, right?
Do we know what God wants from us?
Do we live for God in every detail of our lives?
Do we stop and worship with thanksgiving, giving God honor and praise for what He has done, is doing and will do on our journey with Him?
Do we pray, asking for God’s “will be done on earth as it is in heaven”?
You bring us back to reality as we read, think and pray over these lessons of faith through those who loved and followed you in close communion. Thank you for blessings us with continued growth, pruning away what is not of you, so that our image reflects more your image. We need you every hour of every day. Thank you for being with us, helping us to LIVE what we learn. We cannot live without your power helping us.
In Jesus Name, Amen
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4