Saturday, June 19, 2010

And God Spoke...

"And he [Abram] believed in the Lord,
and He accounted it to him
for righteousness."
~ Genesis 14:19-20

I am always greatly affected when I read about the life of Abram. The richness of his character and the humility of his spirit are like gold nuggets we can carry with us day by day and year by year. His spirit of faith and reliance on God alone are continual goals for my life. To obey God's command- to do the right thing- and rely on God alone. Now that's really livin'.

Years ago, when reading through Genesis, God used Abram's example of giving others the first choice to impress my heart.

You remember when the land that Abram and Lot were sharing became too crowded to support both of their livestock? Abram sought a course of peace and gave Lot the first choice of all the land (Genesis 13:9) to call his own. Of course, Lot chose what he deemed the better portion and headed out. But when Lot left, and Abram was left behind, God spoke:

"And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him,
'Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are-
northward, southward, eastward, and westward;
for all the land which you see I give to you and
your descendants forever.
And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth;
so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered."
~Genesis 13:14-16

Man can choose to select the "best" for himself, but only God can decree whether a possession will be permanent. Lot chose what he thought was the best, but we know it was soon taken away. In fact, Lot left much more behind when leaving Sodom than he had set out (children, his wife, his goods).
Abram on the other hand, chose the peaceable wisdom that comes from above (James 3:17), giving way to Lot. And God determined that Abram's inheritance would be forever.
It makes me wonder of course- what we loose when we choose to grab for ourselves what we think is the "better portion?" What do we miss from God when we refuse to be willing to yield (James 3:17) to esteem others before ourselves (Philippians 2:3) or-- you fill in the blank. It comes down to:

Can we really get the better deal by seeking our own?
Or is the real blessing in obeying God?

As I am reading again through Genesis, I am seeing new things in Abram's character that I desire to emulate as well.

Remember when enemy armies came against Sodom, Gomorrah and their allies because they had chosen- after 12 years of submission- to rebel against the payment of tribute to the king of Elam. In this rebellion, Lot was taken captive by his enemies. Soon word came to Abram and Abram was forced to act.

There are certainly several things to take away from Abram's example in this scenario. First, Abram was loyal to Lot. His nephew had clearly made poor choices with whom to associate, but when trouble came Abram didn't respond- "Well, you deserved that, didn't you?" Rather he felt a responsibility and loyaly to his kin.

Second, Abram was brave- he went out to attack enemy armies that had just conquered three neighboring cities! Using God's wisdom (Genesis 14:20) in battle, he used the advantage of dividing his troops and attacking by night. With God's help, Abram did with 318 servants what the neighboring nations had not done- he rescued the captives and the spoil. God also notes for us in Scripture that Abram went with "318 trained servants who were born in his own house" Genesis 14:14. Abram had been prepared and was ready. What about us? Do we prepare ourselves and our household for the battle? Are we ready in and out of season?

We find as the history unfolds, that Abram had promised God he would not take anything from the spoil- not even a sandal strap and he did not. Although the wicked King of Sodom offered Abram the spoil, Abram remained obedient to God (Genesis 14:22). Unlike Saul after him, Abram stood firm, resisting the temptation of riches or favor. He trusted God alone for his reward. And again, when the dust settled and Abram was alone, God spoke:

"Do not be afraid Abram. I am your shield,
your exceedingly great reward."
~ Genesis 15:1

I read an interesting quote this week, that spoke in more eloquent tones thoughts that have been circulating in my thinking recently.

Ever since our first mother, Eve, facilely discovered multiple reasons to do what God had expressly commanded her through Adam not to do, we’ve proven to be, in our fallen estate, a darkness-loving lot that excels in creatively justifying any sin-embracing choice we desire to make. This ability wreaks havoc in ethics. No sooner do we learn the right thing than we begin paralogizing in the pursuit of what we think of as “freedom.”

But freedom from God’s Law as a rule of faith and life is no freedom at all. Some think the opposite of Law is Grace. Rather, the opposite of Law is chaos, meaninglessness and death. Thinking which leads to a justification for disobedience is, by definition, wrong thinking.

by Steve Schlissel

How often do you hear law and grace pitted against one another- as if the opposite of law is grace... instead of lawlessness. It goes back to what we are told in 1 Peter 2:16- that our freedom, or liberty, is not to be a covering for evil, but so we may be bond-slaves of Christ.

Surely Abram did not think he was above obeying God.

May we be wise enough to reject the example of Eve who sought loopholes and excuses not obey God's clearly revealed will as many do-- falsely assuming they are exercising freedom rather than rebellion. Instead, may we be wise like Abram who obeyed God and trusted Him alone for his reward. And may we hear Him speak.

Richest blessings,

Photos: The girls helping in the garden in the cool of the day. Since I took these photos, everything seems to have tripled in size. What a miracle of God's creative majesty!


  1. You have no idea how timely these words are about 'grabbing the best for myself'! Thanks so much for the encouragement to strive for Christ-likeness. Great quote by Schlissel, too. I see SO MUCH of this misunderstanding of God's law in much of the evangelical church...We should love God's law as His children. We know we do not try to keep it for salvation, but because it is beautiful and good and because it 'will go well with us' when we obey. And, of course because Jesus said that if we love Him, we will obey Him.

  2. Great post! I will have to read it again and soak up your thoughts.

    The pictures are lovely!

    Lots of love,

  3. I discovered your blog recently and I have received a blessing from it, especially this entry. Thank you for this timely word!

  4. Another thought-provoking post.

    Just yesterday, our pastor discussed how we move from knowledge of God to "living" a life for Him. He suggested that three barriers to a God-lived existence can be 1) sin, 2) lack of focus, and 3) wrong theology. He did discuss legalism vs. grace, but was clear that grace is actually the liberty to live in holiness. :) Grace is living within the liberty of law because of our sweet relationship with our Lord and desire to live in a God-honoring way, while legalism is living within the law as a duty-filled response, usually to avoid damnation or to secure a place in heaven.

  5. Amen ladies- well stated.

    We do not obey God to secure salvation, but our obedience is fruit that evidences our salvation. Obedience comes because we love the lawgiver and trust what He says is best!


  6. Wonderful and wise as usual. Thanks for always pointing us to His word!! Looking forward to seeing you soon.