Genesis 13:2-12

June 27, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Posted in Bible Study | Leave a comment
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Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold. He went on his journeys from the Negev as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there formerly; and there Abram called on the name of the LORD. Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together. And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. Now the Canaanite and the Perizzite were dwelling then in the land. So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. “Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.” Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere–this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah–like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom.

Today, we’re going to continue following Abram as he follows God. Abram has been called out of Ur of the Chaldees, away from his family. He has followed his father Terah to Haran. There, Terah died and Abram continued on his own, with his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot. They traveled to Bethel and then south through the Negev. A severe famine caused them to move into Egypt and live there for a little while.

As they entered Egypt, Abram had told his wife that she was to tell everyone that she was his sister (which we saw is actually true) so that they wouldn’t kill him and take his wife. The Egyptians told Pharaoh of Sarai’s beauty and he took her to be his wife. Because of her beauty, Pharaoh gave Abram livestock and servants. But, God struck Pharaoh and his household with “great plagues” because of this. Pharaoh seems to know why the plagues came and Who brought them. He rebuked Abram, gave Sarai back to him, and sent them out of Egypt.

Now, Abram is rich in livestock, silver, and gold. He retraces his steps through the Negev and back to Bethel where he built the altar. As he reaches this place, Abram must have remembered calling out to God and been reminded of Who it was that had blessed and protected him. We also see that Lot has been blessed because of Abram. He too has flocks and herds and tents. This brings about a problem for nephew and uncle. The land that they are both dwelling on cannot sustain both of them. Both of them had so many possessions that it brought strife between their herdsmen as they fought for grazing land. We find out that the Canaanite and the Perizzite are dwelling in the same land. In these stressful conditions, Abram approaches Lot with a request. His desire is to be at peace with his nephew, so he asks Lot to separate from him. Abram, being the elder one, should have had the choice of land, but he instead gives that to Lot.

When Lot looks up, he sees that the valley of the Jordan is well-watered. The text says that it was as well watered as the garden of the Lord. It doesn’t say in the text, but I can’t help but wonder if this view of the valley was enhanced by Lot’s desire to increase? Just a thought. In the end, Lot moves to the valley of the Jordan. But, he doesn’t stop there. He takes his tents as far as Sodom.

Meanwhile, scripture says that Abram settled in Canaan. It is interesting that it is only now that God’s command is obeyed. You might be asking what I’m talking about. Let’s take another look at it:

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; (Genesis 12:1)

God told Abram to go forth out of his country, which he did. But, he also told him to go away from his relatives and his father’s house. This would include his nephew Lot. Now that Lot is gone, God can begin to work with him and prepare him for what’s to come.

This brings to mind something that I want to ask you. Has God commanded something of you? If so, have you obeyed completely? Or, is there still something that you need to get rid of/let go of so that He can work in you? Prayerfully ask the Lord to show you what the case may be and He will show you. Just be ready to obey…

Next week, we’ll see how God adds to His promise! Hope to see you there!

Genesis 12:10-13:1

June 20, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Posted in Bible Study | Leave a comment
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Now there was a famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. It came about when he came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. “Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may live on account of you.” It came about when Abram came into Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. Pharaoh’s officials saw her and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. Therefore he treated Abram well for her sake; and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels. But the LORD struck Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. Then Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? “Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife, take her and go.” Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they escorted him away, with his wife and all that belonged to him. So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife and all that belonged to him, and Lot with him. Continue Reading Genesis 12:10-13:1…

What makes something Christian?

May 17, 2010 at 6:30 am | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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I have been in a few discussions lately that have completely boggled my mind. While I will readily admit that this isn’t hard to do, it didn’t happen because the depth of the discussion went over my head or because the words being used were too big. This happened basically because of some of the things that self-proclaimed “Christians” said during the discussion. The discussions took place on a page set up for a Christian radio station. If you’ve read my blog on Contemporary Christian Music, then you already know that this discussion didn’t start out good. The main topic of discussion revolved around the recent return to music of Jennifer Knapp.  For those of you that may not know, Jennifer Knapp, a Christian artist who decided to take a 7-year hiatus from music, has made her return to the music scene. Unfortunately, she isn’t the same person she once was. Ms. Knapp has made it known to the entire world that she is a lesbian and has been in a homosexual relationship for a few years now.

This announcement sparked a bit of a dialogue on the radio station’s page. There were questions as to whether or not the station should or would play her music anymore. This is where my adventure began. To me, this is a no brainer. Ms. Knapp, while possibly singing about God before, is no longer living a lifestyle that glorifies God. Because of this, the radio station should no longer play her music. If they did, it would look like the radio station was supporting her lifestyle and could confuse new Christians or mislead people into thinking that homosexuality is supported by the church. Then the discussions began.

A few people started posting how much they loved Ms. Knapp and her music and how “uplifting” it was. They talked about how Christian music isn’t about how many times a song mentions God or Jesus, instead it’s about “the deep emotions, the struggle, the quest to find God, live in God’s word, worship God, and be at peace”. Many of the participants overlooked her sin (because we’ve all sinned) and instead focused on the gift that God has given her and how she should be able to use it for His glory. People were upset that some would “judge” her or her lifestyle because we’re not supposed to do that. Others equated anything said against her as “hate”. They said that we need to “build her up” instead of “tearing her down”.  Others said that pastors, teachers, singers, and preachers should not be held to a higher standard than the rest of us because they face the same temptations that we do (even though it says that they are held to a higher standard by God…). The only time scripture was used in the discussion was when people wanted to remind others that we shouldn’t judge or “throw stones”.  There were even comments about how “one religion is no better than another “and how “all opinions should be respected”…on a CHRISTIAN music station’s page!

All of this got me mad, and then it got me thinking about some things. First, it made me sad that so few Christians seem to have an understanding of even the most basic of Christian doctrines. What exactly is being taught today in the church? Second, it made me think about what makes something Christian? What is it that determines whether or not something is Christian? Today, in churches, on Christian discussion boards, and all over the place, there are people talking about things being Christian; but what makes it Christian. Is it Christian because we decide that it is? What happens if we decide five years from now that it’s no longer Christian, does that mean that it’s not? Should we go by our feelings to determine if something is Christian? What if our feelings change? Is it not Christian anymore? Is the Christian faith built upon such a wishy-washy, flimsy foundation as whims or feelings? NO!

What makes something Christian has nothing to do with how we feel about it, or whether we like it, or even agree with it or not. Something is Christian because God said it is. Please stop and read that again. If something is Christian, it is because God said it is. Here’s what I mean. God Himself has determined what Christianity looks like. Jesus is the complete and perfect embodiment of Christianity. If something claims to be Christian and doesn’t match that embodiment, then it’s not Christian; no matter how strongly we desire it to be otherwise. This goes for people, doctrines, teaching, and everything else. Man has somehow gotten it into his head (I think this first happened in the garden) that he can come to God however he desires and God will be ok with it. He can live his life the way that he wants and give God lip service and things will be just fine. It has become so bad that some “churches” believe that a person can follow the doctrines of Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, or even atheism and still be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. As long as they follow the tenets of their chosen religious system, they are good to go.

Man has been trying this ever since the beginning and it has never worked. God has ordained specific ways that He wants things done and they are to be done that way or they are wrong. In the book of Genesis, God told Adam and Eve that they could eat of any tree in the garden but one. God even told them what would happen to them if they disobeyed. In chapter 3 we see Eve and Adam both thinking that they could disobey God without consequence. They ate the fruit, and they ushered death into the world.  In Leviticus 10, Nadab and Abihu were killed on the spot for offering strange fire. God had laid out for them a specific way that they were to offer incense to Him and when they didn’t do it the way He prescribed, God killed them. In Numbers 20, the people were grumbling about not having water to drink. Moses went to God to seek guidance for what he should do. God told Moses to speak to the rock at Horeb and it would bring forth water. Moses gathered Israel together and then took the rod and struck the rock twice. Because they disobeyed God, both Moses and Aaron were unable to enter the Promised Land. Numerous times in the Old Testament Israel followed after other gods instead of remaining true to the one true God. Because of their disobedience, God punished them with famine, plague, invasion from other countries, and even captivity.

As I said above, God is the one who defines Christianity (not man) and He has chosen to do so through His Son Jesus. God has determined that for someone to be born again, they need to repent of their sins and put their faith in Christ alone for salvation. He has determined that Christians are not to condone sin, immorality, or impurity. They are not to look or act like the world but should be more and more like Christ. They are to be making disciples and preaching the true gospel. They are to be teaching others to observe exactly what Jesus commanded us. Unfortunately, the church tries to imitate the world in a horrible effort to try and lure non-Christians in to church. They seem to think that those people will enjoy the worldliness of the “church” and will stay long enough to hear about Jesus (if they even hear about Him at all). When the non-Christians leave the church (and they will), it will be for one of two reasons. Either the church’s efforts to mimic the world are so bad that they can’t stand to sit there and watch; or, they have been deceived into “making a decision for Christ”, “accepting Jesus into their heart”, or “trying Jesus” and were let down when the promised better life didn’t come. Not only have they not been saved from sin and hell, they are now inoculated against the truth because of their experience.

The entire focus of the Bible revolves around one person…and it’s not you. Or me. It is Jesus. We are to pattern our lives after the scriptures that have been written down for us. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that ALL scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. The scriptures show us exactly how we are to live and not live. It shows us how we are to treat God, others, and even ourselves. It warns us of temptation, sin, pride, wrath, and hell. It encourages us to live lives that are worthy of the gospel. This and more come from scripture and scripture alone. And the church pushes that to the side in order to chase after hollow, “relevant”, worldly endeavors that will mean nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Until the church gets back to the biblical definition of Christianity, it will be filled with squishy, shallow, “feel-good” Christians who build idols of Christianity that suit them and their egos while offering no lasting hope or firm foundation.

Looking ahead?

December 28, 2009 at 9:07 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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Ok…Christmas is over and things are starting to settle down. It’ll be another week or so before the credit card bills become a priority and you’ve still got a couple of days before the big New Year’s celebration. What do most people do during this time? They begin to look ahead. For the next month or so, you’ll see ad after ad telling you that they have the very thing that you’re looking for to make the new year go your way. Wanna lose weight? There will be a dozen different new weight loss machines on the market before you can say “couch potato”. Want to better your finances? There are programs and companies that want to help you get you money woes under control (including the huge debt you just built up). Want to see your marriage change? There are books, CDs, and counselors waiting for you to pick them up, pop them in, or give them a call so that they can spend the next 30 days getting your relationship in the best shape its ever been. And, once you choose which of the myriad new eye dazzlers will garner your attention, you can spend a little time plotting your course with fervor and determination because you know that this is your year.

I can’t help but wonder if all of this is really necessary? What are the real motives behind much of this New Year’s barrage? Seems like it’s just one more way for someone to try and make money. Do the methods work? I’m sure for some people they do, but is it “sure-fire” for everyone like the ad copy says? I doubt it. I also can’t help but wonder if ahead is the direction that we need to pour all of this effort (even though it’s really only a few days). Looking over scripture, I see something different and I hope that it helps balance all of the new fad hype. Continue Reading Looking ahead?…


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