Being At-TENT-ive to God

March 12, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Posted in Bible Studies | 5 Comments
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Lord, there is so much in the Bible that You want us to know, and there is so much we do not yet know. I pray that You would teach us something new each and every day, and that You would reinforce our faith through the revelation of Your Word. In the Name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

Genesis 12:1

So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.

Genesis 12:4

Abram was 75 years old when God called him. God can call you at any age. We must never try to take our spiritual phones off the hook. There’s no retiring from the service of God. Abram responded to the call of God in faith, but how did he “keep” his faith going?

Abram was extremely wealthy. He could have lived in a great home. But by faith he chose to live in a tent.

And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.

Genesis 12:8

Abram was not your average tent-dweller.

And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.

Genesis 13:5

And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.

Genesis 13:8

Living among those who did not know the One True God, he wanted to have a good testimony. He reminded Lot that they were family, and families should not fight in front of strangers. If you are part of a local church assembly, there is something more important about your church than than the impressiveness of the facilities, the variety of the ministries, the skill of the musicians or singers, even the eloquence of the preaching. Do the people who make up your church know how to love people? Do the people who visit your church see you as family? If you can’t get along with each other, nobody is going to feel welcome coming into the midst. “For we be brethren,” Abram told Lot. The neighbors are watching.

Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.

Genesis 13:18 (emphasis added)

Lot got tired of living in tents. He decided to move to the city – and it was the start of his downfall. Abram stayed ready to move at the command of God.

And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

Genesis 18:1 (emphasis added)

And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.

Genesis 18:9 (emphasis added)

Abraham kept the faith by staying on the move for God. Next time, we will see two more ideas that helped him keep the faith.

The Top Story in Sodom

March 23, 2010 at 11:53 am | Posted in Genesis | 14 Comments
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And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.

Genesis 17:9-12

The covenant concerns Abraham’s seed. God was the Initiator of this covenant, and He also changed the names of Abram and Sarai, by adding “H’s” to their names. I’m no expert in Hebrew, but my understanding is that the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is “H,” and that this letter represents grace.

Circumcision (“cutting around” the seed-multiplying instrument) was the outward show of God’s covenant people. Cutting off from – and setting aside unto – is a physical picture of a spiritual reality. True believers today are to be circumcised in their hearts.

In Genesis 18 the Lord comes to visit Abraham in disguise.

And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

Genesis 18:1

Keep in mind Abraham was 99 years old when this happened. For him, the “heat of the day” probably was especially uncomfortable.

And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,

Genesis 18:2

Abraham was known for tents and altars. He knew that this world was not his home, and he was devoted to God.

And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

Genesis 18:3-8, emphasis added

Note the haste and desire to serve and wait upon the Lord that Abraham displays. He truly was the friend of God. The Lord had come to destroy Sodom. But first He stopped to talk with Abraham, His friend, about it. At least three times in Scripture Abraham is called the “friend of God” (II Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23).

Abraham was the friend of God and Lot was a friend of the world. Newspaper journalists have a technique they use to get a lot of information into the first paragraph of a news story. They focus on the “who, what, when, where, and why.”

“Police report that John Doe was shot last night in Metropolis while trying to rob a bank.”
The who: John Doe
The what: He was shot.
The when: last night
The where: Metropolis
The why: because he tried to rob a bank

I want to use this technique to compare the differences between the friend of God and the friend of the world.

The WHO for Abraham: Abraham talked with the Lord Himself.

And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

Genesis 18:16-19

The Lord knew that Abraham would command his household – that he would be a spiritual leader, a spiritual husband, father, and grandfather.

And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.

Genesis 18:20-22

The WHO for Lot: The angels went on to Sodom to see Lot, but the Lord didn’t go in to fellowship with Lot in his sin – in his worldliness.

And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

Genesis 19:1

The WHAT for Abraham: The friend of God received the promise of the blessings.

Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

Genesis 18:14

The WHAT for Lot: Lot, the friend of the world, received the warning of condemnation with the world.

For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.

Genesis 19:13

The WHERE: Abraham was in a tent. Lot was in a city.

The WHEN: Abraham was visited in the day. Lot was visited at night.

And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

Genesis 19:1, emphasis added

Abraham, the friend of God, walked in light; Lot, the friend of the world, walked in darkness.

This may surprise you: Lot was a saved man.

And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)

II Peter 2:6-8

The Bible tells us this plainly, because we might have trouble believing it otherwise – especially considering what happened next with Lot:

But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

Genesis 19:4-8

This is often explained away as the extreme “hospitality” required in ancient Eastern nomadic culture when Bible commentators try to help us understand, but we need to take a hard honest look and ask ourselves, “How did Lot get to such a state? How could he offer his own daughters to satisfy the lusts of the world?” And before we get too excited and critical, we must ask ourselves, “Are we offering our daughters to the world?”

I doubt that you would throw your daughter to a mob of Sodomites… but what happens when you send your daughter out into the world unprotected? Many fathers let total strangers come to their home and pick up their daughters. (Maybe a real “strict” father will insist on meeting a young man for five minutes.) Has God commanded you to protect your daughter and defend her honor? Do you trust the world to protect her and protect her honor? How many fathers just “go along” with what everyone else is doing?

Ephesians 6 tells us that when the devil attacks we need to stand. James 4:7 tells us to resist the devil.

When the devil attacks we are to fight. Is there a scarier enemy than the devil? Yet when it comes to a choice between standing and fighting versus running away, the Bible to tells me to stand and fight the devil, not to flee from him. What the Bible tells me to flee from is fornication (I Corinthians 6:18) and youthful lusts (II Timothy 2:22).

I would not let my daughters play with a hand grenade. If I did, somebody should call child protective services on me. But letting my daughters go off with strangers unchaperoned is more dangerous than playing with a hand grenade. I know many Christian parents who pray that God will protect their daughter while she’s out on a date with their approval, and I’m all for praying. But would you pray for me if I asked you to pray that I would be filled with the Holy Spirit so I would have the ability to knock over a liquor store? That would be foolish! You don’t send someone off with an encouragement to sin while telling them that you will pray for them to get away with it!

I know that we don’t live in the culture of the ancient East, and that our society is different. But I’m not answerable to society! I’m a Christian – I’m answerable to God.

The WHY: Abraham chose to be a “Hebrew” – a stranger – a pilgrim passing through this world. Lot and the people of Sodom considered this world to be the end-all – their final home. And they denied the power of God to destroy with fire.

The Apostle Paul warned Timothy to turn away from those that have “a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:” (II Timothy 3:5). The next Sodom will be worldwide. I don’t want my family to see that day. I want my family looking forward to Heaven – not looking back to the world like Lot’s wife.

In the Bible narrative, Lot passes off the scene. Abraham – and as far as we know, the Lord – never got “a Lot out of the world.” Lot argued all the way from Sodom. He had to be literally taken by the hand and dragged out by God’s grace. He wound up getting drunk in a cave and committing incest with his daughters. Only the grace of God can save us from this present world.

Getting a Lot Out of the World

February 15, 2010 at 10:55 am | Posted in Biblical friendship, Genesis | 12 Comments
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In Genesis Chapter 12 God calls Abram.

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

Genesis 12:1

God tells Abram, “Vaya con Dios,” go with God. When you “go” with God, you leave behind the world. Attempts to bring a part of the world along with you will cause trouble. I have heard stories about missionaries who bring someone not called by God to go along on a mission trip, and they say it does not work out well.

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

Genesis 12:1, emphasis added

So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.

Genesis 12:4, emphasis added

I wonder if Abram considered Lot’s coming with him as a training opportunity. If so, he learned the danger of disobedience even if your motives are right. Lot was Abram’s nephew, but consider what Jesus said about family.

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:26-27

Abraham is considered to be the father of faith, but he did not pass every test of faith. When there was a famine in the land, Abraham went down into Egypt.

And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.

Genesis 12:10, emphasis added

In Scripture, Egypt is a picture of the world – what we call “culture” or “society” – but which is really a system which operates apart from the will and the Word of God. When you go into the world, you are going “down” spiritually. We might say, in a sense, that this was when Abraham “put a Lot into the world.” Abraham had problems in Egypt, because, the Bible tells us, he was a friend of God. Egypt is where Lot learned to be a friend of the world. Abraham had trouble in the world because he was friend of God. Lot had trouble following God because he was a friend of the world. Friendship with the world is enmity with God.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

James 4:4

Lot came out of Egypt physically, but his heart never came out. He never forgot the lessons he learned there: the coveting of the pleasures and the material things of the world. Abraham – at least for brief period – was able to “get a Lot out of the world,” but he was not able to get the world out of Lot. Be careful about letting the world get into you. Be careful about leading your friends, your brothers and sisters, your children, into the world. Remember, if you’re trying to get a brother out of the world – only Christ can get the world out of him.

The worldly heart attitude of Lot revealed itself in his actions. He desired the world in his heart, so he began to behave like a worldly person.

And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.

Genesis 13:7

Still, Abraham, striving to “get a Lot out of the world” – out of his worldly ways – showed love to Lot.

And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.

Genesis 13:8

Abraham knew that the neighbors were watching. The Canaanites and the Perizzites who live around your local church are watching. When “brethren” fight it gives them a bad opinion of God. There are some things that even brethren have to divide over. When it comes to your family, Dad – when it comes to your wife, husband – these things aren’t up for compromise. You are answerable to God alone for their provision and their protection. But in issues that are not matters of Bible doctrine or of spiritual significance we should try to have the attitude of Abraham toward Lot: Let’s don’t fight; we be brethren; you choose first; in love preferring one another.

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Romans 12:10

But when Abram let Lot choose, we see the proof that he never got the world out of his heart.

Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.

Genesis 13:11

East was away from “Bethel” (house of God), and toward “Hai” (ruins). Should Lot have pitched his tent toward Sodom? The plain was well-watered over there – it made sense from a worldly viewpoint. But what about from a Heavenly viewpoint? We can see that Lot’s worldly way of thinking may have given him an excuse, but look at what God says about the people of Sodom:

But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.

Genesis 13:13

We say that, before a holy God, sin is sin, but there was something about the sin of the men of Sodom that made them not just “sinners,” but “wicked.” And not just wicked sinners, but sinners “exceedingly.” This was no place for a man who is following God, but it was a very attractive place to a man like Lot – a man overtaken by worldly desires.

You are probably familiar with what happened to Lot. He wound up going from lifting up his eyes and looking toward Sodom – to lifting up his feet and moving toward Sodom – to lifting his family right inside the city walls, making a name for himself and living right in the gates of the city with the other worldly big-shots. But God – maybe out of love for Abraham – maybe out of mercy on Lot – maybe both – wanted Lot out of the world. So He allowed a war to happen, and many of the people of Sodom were captured, and Lot was with them, and he was taken away prisoner.

Abraham, the friend of God, loving his brother, Lot, and wanting to “get a Lot out of the world,” went into action. There are a couple of interesting things to note in Abraham’s rescue of Lot, because some of us have “put a Lot into the world.” More of us “know a Lot in the world.” These people are our brothers – and we want to get them out of the world.

And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.

Genesis 14:14, emphasis added

First, Abram’s servants, called out on a moment’s notice, had already been trained for battle. Do you have trusted friends in Christ that have been trained in battle? Our weapons are not carnal (fleshly). They are spiritual, but they are still weapons and we are still in a battle. Are you training anyone for battle? Have you yourself been trained for battle?

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

II Corinthians 10:3-6

Verse 4 presupposes that you know how to use a weapon – that you have been trained. The “readiness” in Verse 6 means a preparedness, a time of training.

Every believer ought to participate in discipleship training. This means sacrifice, not just a time of fellowship. There needs to be memorization. There needs to be straight talk about a new level of commitment to God’s Word. And there needs to be training.

And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.

Genesis 14:14, emphasis added

First, they were trained. Second, they were born in his own house. When you want to “get a Lot out of the world” – you are going to be tempted to use worldly programs – or earthly family members – but your first call should be to someone who has been born (“born again”) into the family of God.

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

I John 5:4


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