Charging Forward

Lot was thriving in Sodom. No longer living in a tent on the outskirts of town, he was now living in the city and prospering. But all of the wealth and possessions he had accumulated couldn’t assure him a life free from worries. Lot found himself in a bad situation and was soon captured when four kings from the East banded together to conquer Sodom and its allies.

Abram didn’t hesitate to rise to the occasion. Going back to Genesis chapter 4 when Cain sarcastically asked God – “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
YES!
When your brother is in distress, then yes, you do have a responsibility to defend him. When your brother, your neighbor, or your friend is facing an unfair situation, you should come to his rescue – even if his own decisions and actions have led him into these circumstances.
Advice, service, emotional support.
A hug, a helping hand, a bible verse that will bring him comfort or hope.
God wants us to care for one another.
Unconditionally.
He wants us to care enough to get involved. No matter how many times they ignored our advice. No matter how bad their choices may have been in the past. We must set aside our fear and our judgment, and have faith that God will arm us for the battle that lies ahead.

“Carry each otherʼs burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Abram instinctively steps into this duty that we have to come to the aid of another. Abram, who once feared for his life as he entered a foreign country where he only wanted to live peacefully in a land that could sustain him, was now boldly charging forward to conquer. He took 318 men from his own household to attack the armies of four kingdoms. These mighty kingdoms had just conquered the armies of 5 other kingdoms. How could Abram and his servants hope to defeat such a strong force?

Abram went into battle using what he had available to him at the time – his men, strategy, and an undaunted and triumphant faith that God would bring victory to his small army.

When we exercise our faith in God by stepping up to do His will, He will equip us for that task. And sometimes we won’t feel equipped until we take that first step. We may feel unprepared, inexperienced, or unqualified, or think that maybe there is someone better for the job. Don’t let those fears render you helpless. Trust in HIS abilities when you can’t depend on yours.

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:20‬ ‭NLT‬

His mighty power is at work within us!

With God’s help, Abram and his servants were able to conquer the warriors of those four armies after the armies of five kingdoms combined had failed! But more significantly, he was able to free Lot from his captors.

Some battles are worth fighting. If you MUST go to battle, let it be with the right purpose and a strong faith. Pray to God that He will equip you. And have the integrity to give the glory to God.
And not only do we need to go to battle for others, but it is important to develop relationships with people who will come to our defense when we are under attack.
How can you step into this responsibility that we have towards each other today?

Dear God, I pray that I will always have the courage to charge forward when I see someone in need. Please help me to remember that whatever I feel I am lacking at the crucial moment, You will equip me with what I need when I am doing Your will. I know that when I feel I can’t – You can.
Amen


Today’s Scripture:

Genesis 14:1-16
1 At the time when Amraphel was king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goyim, 2 these kings went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboyim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea Valley). 4 For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
5 In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him went out and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim 6 and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. 7 Then they turned back and went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazezon Tamar.
8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboyim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim 9 against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goyim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills. 11 The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. 12 They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.
13 A man who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshkol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.

More Than Enough

Abram traveled back to where he had previously built an altar and called on the name of The Lord. He was back in the place where he knew God wanted him to be.
Abram and Lot were still traveling together, and they had acquired so many possessions that the land could not support them both. Abram no longer had the same worrying nature that had led him to Egypt. Now his faith was in God, so when faced with this difficulty, he was able to bring peace to the situation by acting with generosity towards Lot.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

He trusted that God would provide for him, so he was willing to allow Lot to choose what part of the land he would like for himself.

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Abram was humble in the situation. He was content, knowing that there was more than enough land for both of them. He showed Lot that his relationship with him was more important to him than the conflict at hand.
Lot chose the best land for himself. After Lot had parted, God spoke to Abram. He reassured him that it was not a loss. It didn’t matter what he had given away. God would be giving it all to him anyway.
When we trust God in all the areas of our lives, we can release our grip on things of this world. Our faith allows us to live without attachment to our possessions.
We can restore relationships that are in conflict by acting out of generosity.
We can resolve tension through compromise and cooperation. We can be content and free of the worries of losing our possessions, because it’s just stuff.
You can trust that if God wants you to have it, he will bring it back to you in His timing. And if it’s not part of His plan for you, then you are free from one more distraction that could be keeping you from seeing what He has in store for you.
What is more important – your relationships or your stuff?

Dear Lord, Thank You for providing for me in so many ways. Thank You for the friends and family in my life, for the roof over my head, and for a job that has always paid me enough so that I am never lacking. I have been through some really hard times in the past, so I find myself holding onto so many things that I don’t really need. Please help me to release my grasp on these possessions and act with generosity at every opportunity. I don’t want to hold back anymore, because I have faith that You will make sure that I always have enough.
Amen


Today’s Scripture:

Genesis 13:1-18
1 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. 2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.
3 From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier 4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord.
5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.
8 So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”
10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lorddestroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.
14 The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”
18 So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord.

Faith Over Fear

Because of a famine in Canaan, Abram took things into his own hands instead of asking God for direction. He decided to go to Egypt and live for a little while.
His decision put him and his wife in danger. Because Sarai was such a beautiful woman, Abram feared that the Egyptians would kill him. Abram made another decision without consulting God – he lied.
At this point, Abram’s fear was stronger than his faith. His fear of starvation was greater than his faith that God would provide, and his fear of being killed by the Egyptians was greater than his faith that God would protect him. Abram convinced Sarai to say that she was his sister, so that he would be treated well and his life would be spared.
Apparently Sarai’s safety wasn’t a part of Abram’s plan. Although Abram was treated well with gifts of livestock and servants, Sarai was taken by the Pharoah as his wife. Sometimes when we stray from the path that God has set for us or when our faith is weak, we are not directly affected. We may even benefit from our poor choices. But those same choices could be hurting those close to us.
Fortunately, God did not allow Abram’s poor choices to keep Him from the plans He had for Abram. God handled the Pharoah, and Abram was able to leave with Sarai and everything he had gained while in Egypt.
If Abram had stayed in Canaan, where God had led him, his faith would have grown stronger as God provided for him. Instead he allowed fear to take control, leading him away from God, and even leading to sin.
How often do you allow fear to steer you off course?
You start out on the right path, with the best intentions in your heart, and then things get hard and you are afraid of what may happen, so you start looking for an easier path to take – without asking God what direction you should be heading…
But God doesn’t give up on us when we make mistakes. God shows grace in our weakness and He still has plans in store for us, even after we’ve made choices that lead us away from Him.
If you are trying to follow God’s plan for your life, you have to stop allowing fear to trigger a change of plans. Use your fears to trigger your faith instead.

Dear Lord,
Please help me to remember to seek your direction when I’m faced with a problem or when I have a big decision to make. I want to always stay on the path that You have set for me, but sometimes I lose sight of what is important, and I worry too much. Sometimes I feel like I’m alone in the struggle and I try to find my own way out. Please help me to remember that even when I’ve made mistakes and end up feeling so far from You, that You will still open Your arms and pull me back to where You want me to be. Thank You for showing Your grace and not giving up on me in my weakness.
Amen


Today’s scripture

Genesis 12:10-20 NIV
10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”
14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. 15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.
17 But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” 20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.

A Journey of Faith

When Abram arrived, God appeared to him and told him that he would give this land to his offspring one day. On top of everything that he had already promised Abram, now he was adding a promise of land. It didn’t matter that the Canaanites were already in the land – Abram knew that God was on his side. He was filled with hope and he had faith in God and the promises that he had made.

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

He built an altar to the Lord, then continued to travel, building altars to the Lord and calling on His name.
Abram was learning to walk faithfully with God, even though he hadn’t seen any of the promises fulfilled yet. In fact, he had left behind the comfort of his home, his family, and his friends to wander through unfamiliar territory and sleep in a tent.
When God calls us, we are not usually being called into a comfortable situation. We are being called into a journey. The journey is different for each of us, although each person’s journey will include strengthening of faith and surrender to God’s plan. And while you may be eager for God to pour out His blessings upon you, be careful that in your expectations, you are not confusing God’s blessings with the comforts of the world. Don’t begin your journey expecting to immediately attain all that God has planned for you. Let go of the urgency and the need for everything to happen right now, and hold on instead to the peace in knowing that everything will happen in God’s timing.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for the plans that You have in store for me. I know that I haven’t always been ready or willing to answer your call. But I am waiting and listening for You now. I know that the road ahead may not always be easy, but I know that I will always have You to turn to when I am in need. Please continue to prepare me for the journey that lies ahead of me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen


Today’s Scripture:

Genesis 12:6-9 NIV
6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring
I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lordand called on the name of the Lord.
9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

Leaving Your Comfort Zone

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your fatherʼs household to the land I will show you.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭12:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God told Abram to leave his country, his people, and his father’s household – probably pretty much everything in Abram’s comfort zone.
God wants us to leave our comfort zone so we can learn to find our contentment and security through Him. Your faith is not in your comfort zone!

If you are ready to answer God’s call, you need to ask yourself these questions:

– What is my comfort zone, and what about it comforts me?
– How can leaving my comfort zone bring me closer to God?
– What can I do to break out of my comfort zone?
– When am I going to start?

The answer to the last one is NOW! Start with prayer!

Dear God, I must confess that I have been holding back. I believe in Your word, and I love You and all that You’ve done for me. I go to church every week and sing Your praise at the top of my lungs. I do my best to honor You by serving others. I’ve been reading my bible and praying every day, and I’m learning so much as I grow closer to You. I thought that all of this meant that my faith was growing stronger, but but now I understand that I haven’t really let go of the things that make me feel safe and comfortable. There are some things that I have held onto because I’m scared to let go. I need Your strength to help me walk away and leave fear behind. I don’t want to be afraid of the unknown anymore!
Amen