When Peacemakers Become Fighters

When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men…  Genesis 14:14  ESV

Abram surprises us when he takes up arms to fight.  He has always been a peacemaker.  No one who read his story in the preceding chapters would have any idea that he had a small, trained army within his own household.  Now, they are revealed and are released to go fight the enemies who have taken his nephew, Lot, captive.  Though Abram’s men are greatly outnumbered, they are fierce warriors with God on their side.  They will defeat the captors and free Lot.  This will not be the first or last time we will see God astound us.

It’s always a shock when a peacemaker is willing to fight.  It’s equally shocking when a fighter lays down his sword and pulls a chair up to the table to seek peace. Both have earned a reputation for responding to life in their own preferred way.

Each of us is bent, because of our personality, more toward one than the other.  Gentle spirits love peace and hate conflict.  Feisty spirits love a good fight and see those who seek peace as being weak.  We build a track record for only responding one way and those around us count on us to react as we have always done.  I am a peacemaker, by nature, and not easily inflamed.  It takes a lot to anger me and while that can appear admirable, I will tell you that it can be a fault.  A friend once told me, after hearing a few stories about a time when I had been badly harassed by someone, that I was patient to a fault.  She was right.

A balanced child of God, one who is like Jesus, does not act solely out of his personality type.  He listens to Jesus and follows Him even when he is asked to do something he finds more difficult.  A fighter needs to learn to be still.  A peacemaker needs to learn how to fight.  There is a time to take the hill and there is a time to show restraint.

 Many of us can live our lives thinking that the bents of our personality are the best traits.  May we meet in the middle?  Both are needed and both, acting under the direction of the Spirit, play pivotal roles in the purposes of God.

Teach me when to fight and not retreat.  Give me the boldness to step outside of my peacemaker box.  Amen

So Much For Paradise

So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way.  Genesis 14:11-12  ESV

What looks good not be good for me.  When I choose something based on eye appeal, I will become a casualty of my ignorance.

Abram had been generous.  He and Lot had stood overlooking the vistas of new land and a new future.  Abram gave Lot the first choice of where he’d like to settle.  Lot was not prayerful, did not seek God, and did not seek Abram’s advice either.  He grabbed the greenest land to the East and settled there.  It was the land of Sodom. He did not know the folly of making such a critical decision without prayer.  In just thirteen years, enemies would come in, conquer the land, and take Lot and his family captive.

Seeing how this story turned out, I can over-correct in the flesh and do the opposite thing.  I vow to pick the lesser of two choices, thinking this to be God’s life lesson.  That is equally foolish.  The problem was not the lush land of Sodom.  The problem was Lot’s heart and his casual disregard for God’s will.

I must not let anything temporal control me. I can enjoy beautiful things but should hold them loosely. When presented with a job offer, one lucrative and one modest, I know I may be drawn to the one that promises wealth.  That being true, I know that I can’t trust myself.  Only God knows if that option is good for me lest I become like Lot whose perceived good fortune led him into slavery.

What choices are you weighing today?  Who to marry, where to move, what job to take, where to move a parent with special needs, and what church to attend?  The choice that seems obvious may be the wrong one.  The one without the glitter may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.  God is all too willing to reveal His secrets to any child who acknowledges that he is void of wisdom.

One final thought.  Lot knew God had spoken to Abram and promised him a blessed future.  Deciding to part ways with Abram at all was his greatest mistake

I make such a mess when I live by my senses.  I can’t tell what I’m looking at.  Oh God, protect me and lead me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

God Plus Me

Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.”  Genesis 13:17  ESV

God never meant for me to be passive about my faith.  He has made promises but I must make them mine by walking them out.  There will be times that promises appear to be in threat so I must rise to fight for faith.  There will be giants in my Canaan.  A life of faith does not mean a life of resting.  I must expect battles.

Being an ambassador of God on this earth means ruling on behalf of the His kingdom.  He’s the One who commissioned me.  Though earth is not my home, I’m sent here to represent my King and bring the laws of His kingdom to earth.  This is a cooperative effort.  As I prayerfully rule and do my part, God has my back.  As I stand in His promises, He fulfills them.  That’s why Moses was told to raise the rod over the Red Sea.  That’s why Joshua and the Israelites were told to march around the walls of Jericho.  They did their part and God brought the victory. 

God has just given Abram a blessing.  He promises him land in every direction his eyes can see and offspring greater than the sands of the sea.  But it won’t come to pass without Abram’s involvement.  He is told to walk the length and breadth of the land – personally staking his claim.

Walking out God’s promises is to be my way of life.  When my children’s future appears to be tenuous, I get on my knees and stake my claim on God’s promises for them.  When the ministry is under spiritual attack, I go to a day of fasting and re-claim the promises surrounding my calling.  When my home is under attack; when anger, anxiety, or depression swirl, when equipment begins to malfunction, when sleep is robbed, when people begin to act out without a cause, I do what Abram did.  I walk the lines of my property and sing.  I also take my “I Am” sheet with me and read it as I walk.  The victory is mine as God engages with my faith walk. 

Giants in the land were never there to cause me to faint.  They were there to teach me to live and fight for faith. 

When there were too many obstacles, Lord, I used to just abdicate.  Thank you for teaching me how to fight and for giving victory after victory.  As the stakes get higher, give me the grace to walk with more boldness.  Amen 

What Kind Of Reward Do I Seek?

The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever.  Romans 13:14-15  ESV

Abram deferred to Lot out of sheer grace.  “Of all the land in front of us,” Abram said to Lot, “pick where you’d like to live!”  Lot chose with his eyes and picked Sodom, in the Eastward direction, because it was lush and green.  So, I can only gasp at the generosity of God.  He immediately spoke to Abram and told him that He would give him all the land in front of him; north, south, west, andeast.  Hadn’t Abram just given the east to Lot?  Yet God is telling him that it will still be his.

Why would I ever whine about how hard it is to follow God?  Why does He have such a bad reputation among His children for requiring unreasonable obedience?  Every time I obey, God rewards me somehow.  The payoffs are the joy of obedience, internal peace, and a sense of God’s favor in my life.  The payoff is also God rearranging my circumstances, changing people’s hearts, and causing me to inherit was has always been mine for His purposes. 

God is not the only One who gives rewards.  People give rewards.  Parents, bosses, and some in authority.  How many of their compensations seem fair?  They are usually skewed somehow, not equal to or greater than the cost.  Satan also rewards those who serve him.  Material things can pour in on the unrighteous and cause God’s children to say, “Why do the evil prosper?”  Satan often makes God look stingy and how he loves that! 

God has called me to pick up my cross and follow Jesus but I remember, as I struggle, that God will not only reward me but will give me the grace to say no to Satan’s premature payoffs and sources of pain relief.  By God’s grace, I will not cave.  And I will not be fooled by those who appear to have it all.  I have it all – in Christ. 

Change my heart’s appetite for heaven’s rewards. Amen

When I Make Choices With My Senses

So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom.  Genesis 13:11-12  ESV

Abram gave Lot first choice as to which part of the land he wanted to claim for himself.  Lot chose the Jordan valley, a gorgeous, well-watered piece of property that resembled the garden of the Lord.  He chose with his eyes, with his senses.  His choice will come back to haunt him.  That which looked lush was really Sodom and he will barely escape with his life in the days to come.

I cannot assess anything correctly without consulting God. What looks lush one day can be a wasteland tomorrow.  And what looks barren today can be lush tomorrow once the hand of a miracle-working God touches it.  Does history not teach me this? 

God was clear not to judge a book by its cover, even when it comes to people.   He often chooses the least, the uneducated and the un-popular.  They can be the ones others pass over. When people choose leaders, they lean on their senses, caving to charisma and good looks.  God’s man may be someone others walk by and never give a second thought.  It was true with Jesus.

I stand at many crossroads over the course of my life.  God might call me to embrace a place, a calling, a companion, or a direction in life that appears to be wrong.  It may not glitter.  It might even repel.  I should not second-guess God’s voice.  Jesus was born in a stable, not a palace.  What seems so common can be transformed by the wind of the Spirit into something heavenly.  He turns deserts into gardens.  

I am reminded yet again that if I choose with my senses, I could very well regret it.  I will risk settling, working, and marrying in Sodom.

Abram wasn’t shaken by Lot’s choice.  He still trusted You and knew blessing was wherever You were leading Him.  I shut the eyes of my flesh and journey with You through the back door of blessing.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

When Someone Wants Your Blessing

And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together, and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land. Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” Genesis 13:5-9  ESV

There is no way to write about Abram’s dealings with Lot without displaying the entire scripture passage which tells the story.  Abram did what goes against the grain of every human being.  He gave preference to the ones who wanted his blessing.  Abram and Lot were never unified in mission.  There had been friction from the start.  Now, the conflict between them rises to the surface again.  The land is too small for both and all their flocks.  Their herdsman are fighting over pasture land and who should have rights to it.

Abram knows God has promised him the land and the blessing of prosperity.  But, instead of hoarding the blessing, instead of rising to play God, he defers to Lot.  He lets him be the first to choose what part of the land he would like to make his own.  Abram showed a lack of self-interest.  Why would he be so generous?

Because he believed in the sovereignty and promises of God.  Deferring to Lot would not threaten what God had promised.  Abram didn’t need to fight for what God said was his.  That battle was God’s and Abram rested in future provision.

God has given each of His children a calling and a host of promises to accompany it.  No one can steal it. God may be invisible but He is not inactive.  I do not need to come apart when it appears that I’m about to be crowded out of the picture.  God is still pulling strings to ensure my future.  I can step aside and be gracious, even to the unrighteous, feeling no need to fight for what God said is mine.  I can choose to live in the confidence of God’s promises rather than the fear of being left out.

From the time we are small, we cry when another takes away our toy. “Mine,” we protest.  The sense of injustice takes over our emotions.  God’s ways are difficult, and it takes the grace of God to react differently in adulthood.  Like Jesus who laid aside glory to become a servant, we can choose to serve our enemies, too.  His future was not threatened even though it looked like it was for a time.  Today, He sits in His rightful place of rule and authority.  The supposed threats are dead and gone and virtually nameless.  So it is if we choose to follow Jesus.  Deferring is not losing.  Deferring is an act of faith and the pathway to the blessing and inheritance that cannot be taken away.

When I’m clutching and hoarding, speak to my fearful heart.  In Jesus’ name, Amen