Last week our sermon and Bible study focused on Abram's lies about Sarai being his sister and his sojourn and exit from Egypt. Our lovely teacher Elise pointed out that we know the process for Esther to be "purified" and ready to be presented to the king, took about a year. We wondered if that were also true in Egypt and therefore that Abram, Sarai, Lot and all their peoples had been in Egypt for quite some time. At any rate, by the events in Genesis 13, we know that the famine was gone or conditions had at least improved. Abram was back in Canaan with more wealth than he had when he left. This week we focused on how Abram began to turn his faith and life in the right direction.
Genesis 13:4 tells us that when Abram came back to where he had first built an altar, he called on the name of the Lord.
When we blow it and we recognize it - the FIRST thing we need to do is call on the name of the Lord! Even if we are not ready to repent (change our ways) or ask for forgiveness - we still need His help and wisdom to get out of the messes we make for ourselves. Don't you think that's true, that most of the time, we are the ones making our own mess? I realize that many people are harmed by others and have injustices against them, but sometimes even then, we make it worse for ourselves. My theory is that it boils down to our number one sin of PRIDE - ever since Eve failed in the garden, we have been trying to be in charge of our own lives, ignoring God until we cry out. I am not writing this against anyone else, but just admitting that sadly, too many times in my own life I have found this to be true.
But, Abram had learned a lesson, or so we think, and now he is seeking God. After he has sought God's wisdom, he does an amazing thing. He totally humbles himself before Lot. Now, Abram is Lot's elder and possibly his guardian after the death of his father, Abram's brother. Lot's wealth has already been acquired through the blessings upon Abram. There is no human reason why, nor a cultural reason why he would do this.
Our teacher told us that many theologians compare this to Christ who "humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:8 NIV). There is much in the Old Testament that foreshadows the coming of Christ. The more I read it the more I see it and it has almost become a treasure hunt. It is a pet peeve of mine that many Christians dismiss the Old Testament. They are forgetting 2 Tim 3:16-17 where Paul tells his protege Timothy that ALL Scripture is inspired by God. As a matter of fact that is my children's SS memory verse. When Paul wrote that, Scripture was primarily the Old Testament. So, I encourage you to go hunting for jewels in the richness of the history of God's relationship with His children.
Abram humbled himself before Lot and gave him a choice. Lot chose what he could see. Instant gratification with little effort required to prosper. He looked out and saw the green pastures and fertile land.
I've never really liked Lot. Is that okay to admit, that you don't like someone in the Bible?! His story is just so "eww" in so many ways. Judas Iscariot compels me to more compassion than Lot. Of course this is purely emotional observation. I was surprised when our teacher read 2 Peter 2:6-8 which proclaims Lot a righteous man. Hmmm... now I am the one humbled. It's a good thing that I am not personally under the microscope; perhaps I would not fare as well as Lot!
Lot goes one to greener pastures :o) and there is no record of grumbling or complaint on Abram's part. He settles in Canaan and the Lord tells him to look as far as he can see - north, south, east and west - all the land would belong to him and his offspring. The EAST where Lot had chosen the prime real estate was even promised to Abram.
Abram had consulted with God, worshipped God and chosen God's path for his life, therefore he could humble himself before Lot and wait and trust on the Lord. Abram exemplified in this circumstance, the truth of Matthew 6:25+... that we seek first Him and His Kingdom and all these things (all the things we need and even sometimes wants are thrown in to delight us!) are given to us. He did not worry.
Lot trusted in what he could see.
Abram trusted in God.
2 Corinthians 5:1-10 shares Paul's views. He fully grasped the limitations of his humanness and the hugeness of his God.
"We live by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7
The writer of Hebrews tells us that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness.
So, this week I have been thinking about that. And you know what? Right away it was tested. It was like the enemy said, "AHA! You can't trust Him, look what's going to happen! What will you do?"
The day after Bible study we found out that the brakes on our van ALL need to be replaced and are metal to metal. Part of me panicked momentarily because we have had this nice little trip for D's birthday planned - going to Monterrey and the Aquarium and the Ocean! I looked at Hubby and said "Let's not freak. Let's sit down and pray." Their were only 2 ways we could get brakes (a priority) and go on our trip. The first was to not pay our tithe. The second was to max out our credit card. Neither of these would honor our Lord! After praying, I remembered that the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences just reopened after lengthy repairs post earthquake damage (1989 I believe). So, instead of a three day even with a motel stay, we can make a day trip and see some of the same things. Praise God we had that money set aside for the trip... if we had not, then we would just be without the van until we could come up with that huge sum! It would have been do-able, but difficult. And another praise God! We safely made it home, FULLY LOADED, over several passes in August!
It reminded me of something from my high school years. Andy, my stepfather, whom I called "Dad", always had connections. He was a people person, a good manager and always loved helping people. Through one of these connections he had a car for me. He told me that this person he knew had a car that I could have for $300 and he was willing to do that for me. Okay, slap my silly teenage brain! I said, "What kind of car can it be for $300?" Later I found out it was something really desirable... something like a little Cougar, I can't remember but it was at the time a really cool car, well taken care of and only $300 as a favor to Andy. He taught me a lesson. No, he did not buy me the car because I had a bad attitude. That lesson was hard learned but has stuck with me and has come to mind several times since then as I have more carefully chosen my words! I could not trust my Dad who wanted to give me something good. I could only trust what I could "see" with my brain - an old falling apart jalopy for $300!
How many times have I also done that with my Heavenly Father, who desires to give me only good? Instead I do not trust Him. The Creator of the entire Universe and I cannot trust Him! If I cannot trust Him, who can I trust? Sometimes I get too big for my britches and I think that I know what's best for me. Sometimes my pride grows like Pinocchio's nose! And just like I missed out on a really cool car (and didn't have a car of my own until college, after Andy died), I know that I have missed out on some really cool things my Abba Daddy wanted to do for me because I thought I knew better. Patiently He waits for me. I don't want to try that patience. He is a LOVING God but He is also HOLY and JUST!
Oddly, in all the years of Bible study, I have never studied Abram/Abraham before. I'm enjoying the class taught by one of our pastors wives and learning from the women of all age that are joined together to share. It's such a beautiful way to learn. On Sunday we hear the message from the pulpit and on Tuesday we discuss it further. I'm surprised that each week, something new touches me in these old stories. But then again, some things He has had to teach me over and over. Growing in faith is that way. The key thing is to pick ourselves back up when we fall, brush ourselves off and keep moving forward with Him.
If you have found yourself drifting from your relationship with Him or sinning in such a way that keeps your pride from letting you come back, please don't be afraid. The Bible is full of examples of people who did not deserve the Lord's mercy and yet He gave it freely and still does today. He knows your heart and He misses you. If you would like me to pray for you, please feel free to email me off blog (upper right hand corner on the sidebar) and I will sincerely be honored to pray for you in confidence. God be with you all this weekend as you hear His Word and/or praise and fellowship with other Believers.