Monthly Archives: June 2017

Moving

You could probably call my husband and I nomads. So far, we have moved a total of fifteen times. Our moves mostly have been job related. We have moved within the same city, another city more than fifty miles away, and out-of-state. The hardest moves have been those that were out-of-state.
Of course, the hardest thing about moving out-of-state is that you are a total stranger to a new place. You need to decide where to live in a place you know little or nothing about. You are unfamiliar with the local roads, food, sports teams and perhaps even need to get used to a new dialect or accent. You will need to make new friends and find new doctors, dentists, schools and a church. It is a difficult transition.
Being a stranger in a new place was not an unfamiliar concept for Abram and Sarai. They moved around many times. However, they had settled nicely in Canaan and enjoyed living there on the land God promised them until famine came. Then they had to move to Egypt to find food.
As they neared their destination, Abram was worried about the Egyptians killing him because of Sarai. She was still a beautiful woman and if they knew Abram was her husband, they might kill him and take her. He told her to say she was his sister so that his life would be spared. Sure enough, she caught Pharaoh’s eye, and he gave Abram many extravagant gifts for her.
Remember that God promised to look out for Abram. But Abram instead of relying on God to protect them, took matters into his own hands by lying about Sarai. Not only did this cause Pharaoh to be in a position to commit adultery, but it ended Sarai’s and Abram’s marriage. If they were not married to one another, it blocked the promise of descendants via Abram and Sarai as God had promised.
God caused plagues to fall on Pharaoh’s household. Pharaoh knew the Lord sent those plagues and called for Abram. He asked Abram why he lied about Sarai? Pharaoh could have had them both killed for their treachery. Instead he ordered him to take Sarai and leave the country and gave him an escort out of Egypt. Abram was permitted to keep the gifts he’d been given for her. These gifts added to the wealth Abram already had.
At first, I thought it was weird that God would reward Abram for not relying on Him by giving him more wealth. But I think God wanted Abram to know without a doubt that He had intervened, and His plan was in place no matter how Abram tried to mess it up by not trusting and seeking the Lord’s guidance.
When I read this story, I am reminded that God has a plan for us. No matter what we do, His plan is THE plan and cannot be changed. It comforts me to know no matter what I do, I cannot change or screw up God’s plan for me. He gives me freewill, and I always have the choice to rely myself or on Him in all my decisions. All I need to do to make the right choices is know Him by reading my Bible and spending time in prayer. The closer I am to Him the easier it is to get with His plan.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Keep the Peace

Family conflicts are a fact of life. Our first experience with them usually occurs when we are young and involves our siblings or friends. These conflicts are often short-lived, intense and disrupting for anyone who is within hearing distance. As we grow up and begin families of our own, conflicts may involve a spouse or refereeing disputes with our own children. The older we get, the potential for the conflicts to last longer and intensify grows because there is an intense desire to be right or have our own way.  It becomes hard to forgive and forget.

If family conflicts are not resolved, many times they may cause a wound that festers and makes the family dysfunctional or tears them apart. It is hard for us to submit to another person and to admit we were wrong or out of line. Our pride is an immovable wall that we can’t get passed.

Sometimes we see a conflict on the horizon, and we are faced with two choices – to either ignore it until it erupts or to stop it before it starts.  It takes courage to address a conflict head on before it starts. It requires us to find possible resolutions that everyone involved can live with.

A prime example of this is when Abram stepped up to act before a conflict could cause a problem in his family. Both he and Lot were related – Abram was Lot’s uncle and probably had taken the place of his dead father. They became very wealthy men. Their wealth was in livestock, servants and tents which were past overflowing as they shared land in Bethel and Al. Their herdsmen had begun fighting over resources.

Abram became aware of this issue and was proactive. He went to Lot and said that that he did not want any conflict with Lot over their herdsmen fighting with one another because they were family. He suggested that they go their separate ways so both families and servants could live in peace.

Lot agreed. Abram gave Lot first choice of the land and said whichever direction Lot decided to move to, Abram would settle in the opposite one. Lot chose the Jordan Valley and moved on. Abram went in the opposite direction to Canaan. Abram’s goal was for the conflict to end and Lot to be happy.

Abram’s selflessness and love for Lot reveals the heart of a peacemaker. Abram saw the conflict brewing and took charge of the situation. He didn’t wait until the issue spilled over and caused problems between he and Lot. Their relationship took precedence over anything Abram may have wanted.

Abram also showed great faith in God when gave Lot first choice on where he would live. Even if Lot chose the direction Abram was partial to, Abram would take the other and stand on God’s promise of blessing. Abram knew that God would honor his promise no matter where he lived. His faith in God gave him the strength to be a peacemaker.

After Lot left, God took Abram aside and told him to look around him. God said all that he saw now belonged to him and his many descendants which if numbered would be like counting grains of sand. He encouraged Abram to explore the land he’d been given. Abram moved his camp to Hebron where he built an alter and worshiped God.

When there is conflict, we show Jesus to others when we put aside our own pride and show love and concern for the other person or persons. That means we find a resolution for that conflict which works, even if it personally costs us something. Taking on the role of peacemaker pleases God and He will bless us for it.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9

Worship Like Abram

As my siblings and I grew into teenagers and young adults, my mom and dad had to change their parenting tactics.   To keep us on track and doing the things they felt we should do, they promised us certain things.  For instance, if we remained in college, they would pay for a car insurance and car.  Also, if we got straight A’s all year long, they would pay us $50.00 (which was a lot of money back then). My parents honored all their promises to us.  We learned that we could count on their word and had complete trust and faith in them.

It’s so easy to put trust and faith in someone when there is tangible proof that what a person says they do.  It’s quite another thing to trust when there is not always tangible proof, and when it takes a big leap of faith to trust and believe.

Abram was seventy-five years old, childless, and prosperous in his homeland.  One day God told Abram to leave his native land and go to a land where God would lead him.  God promised several things if Abram would do this. First, God promised to bless him and make him a great nation which meant give him many offspring.  He also promised Abram fame and all the world’s families would be blessed through him.  God added that He would bless those who blessed Abram and curse those who cursed Him which meant Abram had God’s protection no matter where he went.

I’m always amazed that Abram obeyed the voice of God and didn’t question him.  How many seventy-five-year-olds would pack up and make a long journey away from the familiar?  Yet, Abram packed up his wife and servants and all his possessions along with his nephew Lot and headed to where God told him to go which was the land of Canaan.  This land was already inhabited by a foreign culture.  However, that did not deter Abram.  He went ahead and made himself at home.

The Lord showed Himself to Abram and promised Canaan to Abram’s descendants.  Then Abram worshiped the Lord by building an alter there.  Abram traveled throughout that promised land.  In all Abram’s stops and starts on his journey, he built alters to honor God which showed his faith.  God had yet to come through on all his promises, but Abram had believed that God would.  How awesome Abram’s worshipful attitude was!

Can I say the same for myself?  Do I have enough faith to worship the Lord in all the stops and starts in my own life?  Can I believe in His promises when there is no tangible proof?  It’s hard to worship when things aren’t going well, or I forget to worship when things are great.  A worshipful attitude toward God opens our hearts so we can feel His presence and hear His voice.  It is a way to keep our faith strong and our souls tuned in to the Lord and His plans and promises for us.  When we do this in faith and not by what we can see and feel, it pleases the Lord.  He wants us to trust Him and love Him with our whole being.

 

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.  Psalms 145:13