Time is short my friend. I open my heart to you and pray that you hear the voice of the Lord through His message. It is very humbling to be His vessel, it is always a message that I need to hear, and I pray that as you hear and draw nearer to the Lord, that you also will be changed and begin to see the world in which we live through the eyes of God and not through the carnal atmosphere in which we live. There is only One Truth and the ways of this world are far away from Jesus. Even the “church” has embraced the world and it’s lies. I pray that the eyes of your heart will be opened and you will follow the Lord in the path of righteousness.
“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 emphasis mine) God commanded Abram (his name prior to the covenant that the Lord made with him) to leave everything he has known and to go where He tells him to go. If he obeys that command God will “show” him, and his future generations, His plan. This wasn’t exactly an easy thing to do. Abram was 75 years old already! He owned flocks and servants and now he was to take up his livelihood and become a nomad. He had no idea where he was going, but he had something better, a future and a hope! “And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed." (Genesis 12:2-3 emphasis mine) He knew the Lord keeps His promises even though he didn’t always understand how the Lord would do it!
Notice that God didn’t tell Abram to go east, west, north or south, He said “Go”. My dear friends, this is a key verse to any believer who truly is a disciple of the Lord. It is what we will be talking about in this devotion, a two way relationship, a partnership of love, and a covenant. Each will have to take action in order for anything to happen. Remember the verse, "For many are called, but few are chosen." ? (Matthew 22:14) Few will actually answer the call to obedience. Many today want the blessing but they don’t want to be tested, to be inconvenienced, to have to work for the blessing. That reminds me of 2 Corinthians 4:8-10, "We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed-- always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body." (emphasis mine) They want position, power, recognition, to be great but they do not want to pay the price that is involved to achieve these rewards. They want instant gratification, instant blessing, instant salvation, instant power and recognition. There are also those who are so enmeshed in the past that they can’t hear the Lord telling them to move forward. We can’t change the past (even though educators are now trying to change history by eliminating great portions of it), but what we allow the Lord to do through us will impact the present and the future. But it has to be the Lord’s doing, not our desires, nor our plans. Abraham was willing to trust God with a NEW beginning. ARE YOU?
Testing isn’t comfortable, it isn’t easy. But it will reveal your true heart and desires. You will be changed to reflect the character of Jesus Christ, which is the fruit of the spirit. Galatians 5:23-26, "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” There are some who will not respond to the Holy Spirit and instead of becoming obedient and anointed of the Lord, will turn away and continue to do things their own way. There always is a choice, which way will you choose?
Abram, who became Abraham, after God made a covenant with him, was a humble man, Others saw him as powerful because of the wealth that he had accumulated. But that wealth was given to him by God as a blessing for his obedience over and over again. (And, no, God doesn’t give financial blessing to everyone because they are faithful! You must keep Scripture within its context.) Abraham didn’t desire power and fame, all he desired was to please God. Proof needed? Do you know of a city named after Abraham? No. As a matter of fact the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews gives us great insight as to why not. “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:8-10 emphasis mine) There is no such city on this earth. Abraham kept his eyes on the Lord and was content to follow the Lord, wherever that might be. However, whenever he disobeyed the Lord or acted in his own wisdom, there were great consequences for his actions, painful consequences. And even though he didn’t understand fully why the Lord demanded things to be exactly as He desired, Abraham trusted Him. Is that true of you?
Notice that there were three men (actually angels of the Lord). We frequently see angels in the Scriptures and understand that Jesus appeared as an angel to several in the Old Testament Scriptures. The number three means that something is going to be revealed. That is important. Are you expectedly watching and looking for the Lord or His servants to appear to you and reveal God’s desire or plan to you? They “appeared” which should alert us that this is a visitor different than a neighbor. We must be spiritually alert at all times to even recognize this truth. The Apostle who wrote the letter to the Hebrews admonished us, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2) But there is another aspect that we need to really understand here, Abraham lived his life listening and following God’s plan. He wasn’t perfect, he made mistakes, but once he met the Lord God and followed God’s command to leave his country and his family, he didn’t look back. His life was completely changed. He lived his life expecting God to be there with him! "Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you." ( Deuteronomy 31:6)
Abraham desired to “serve” the Lord, he was a servant of the Almighty Living God! This wasn’t a one time serving opportunity, he loved the Lord and willingly became a servant. He trusted Him with his life, his livelihood; it all belonged to the Lord! "So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions." (Luke 14:33) Abraham’s washing of their feet gives us a perfect picture of his being humble. While their feet were probably really dirty (because they wore sandals) washing their feet had nothing to do with the dirt, it was all about ministering to that person. Their feet would be hot and sore and by pouring cool water over their feet they would be comforted and become rested. This was an act of respect. Respect is a character trait of a servant of the Lord. Respect is treating others as more important than yourself.
Jesus was a servant and taught us that we, too, must become servants. "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 6:38) “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant,...” (2 Corinthians 3:5-6) "If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12:26)
But that was only the first part of meeting their physical needs. Abraham quickly went to his wife and had her prepare bread cakes, he then picked a young choice calf and had his servant prepare it and also prepared refreshments (curds and milk) for them. Notice that Abraham did not eat with them, he served them. This meal was an act of hospitality but also a demonstration of servanthood. Abraham took the best of what he had and served it to his guests. He did not count the cost and it was not an inconvenience. "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:28)
Relationships are a two way street. Abraham would never have received all the blessings of the Lord if he had remained independent and doing what “seemed right in his own eyes”. He fell in love with the Lord and lived to serve Him. Whenever he received a blessing he built an altar and worshipped the Lord and blessed His holy name! He was obedient to God’s commands. Without obedience to God’s laws and commands we cannot have a relationship with Him. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalms 91:1) “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;’” (John 8:31) "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Please take careful note of what the Lord said about blessing Abraham, "For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him." (Genesis 18:19 emphasis mine) Please read this verse as many times as necessary until the truth of it sinks deeply in your soul and the Holy Spirit can begin to speak into your life and show you the truth of your relationship with the Lord. Are there hindrances that you need to deal with? Is there disobedience to His Word? Do you pick and choose what you want to follow? Do you twist His words to justify actions in your life? The Lord will not share with you what He is about to do, even in your own life, if you do not have intimacy with Him. How can He trust you when you aren’t willing to trust and obey Him?
Because of this respect and love of the Lord, the Lord trusted Abraham to share with Him what He was about to do. I have always been fascinated by Abraham’s questions to the Lord about saving Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction. But first we need to understand why God shared His plan for destroying the towns. The answer is in the verse we just read. God had a plan for Abraham’s life and his descendants but the fulfillment of those plans depended upon Abraham’s obedience to the Lord. The conversation between the Lord and Abraham reveals much about Abraham’s relationship with the Lord but also it reveals Abraham’s heart. Abraham’s heart reflected God’s heart. The people in the town were living in much sin but Abraham did not assume that 100% of the people were sinful. He had hope and compassion for any that were righteous. But even more importantly, well, let’s read the text, “And the LORD said, ‘The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.’ Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the LORD. Abraham came near and said, ‘Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?" So the LORD said, ‘If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account.’ And Abraham replied, ‘Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes. Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five, will You destroy the whole city because of five?’ And He said, ‘I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.’ He spoke to Him yet again and said, ‘Suppose forty are found there?’ And He said, ‘I will not do it on account of the forty.’ Then he said, ‘Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak; suppose thirty are found there?’ And He said, ‘I will not do it if I find thirty there.’ And he said, ‘Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord; suppose twenty are found there?’ And He said, ‘I will not destroy it on account of the twenty.’ Then he said, ‘Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?’ And He said, ‘I will not destroy it on account of the ten.’” (Genesis 18:20-32)
It is critical to note that if Abraham did not intimately know God and His character, Abraham would not have known how to speak. His first concern was that God not be misunderstood! The enemy is always looking for ways to twist what God is doing and make Him appear to be mean and judgmental. It will turn people away from seeking the Lord if the enemy can convince people of this deceit. Abraham understands the people and does not want them to miss any opportunity to draw close to the Lord. As he asks the question of the Lord if He really is planning on destroying everyone, even the righteous, God responds so that we see His mercy, grace and compassion. Secondly, and don’t miss this, I was struck with how differently Abraham’s request was than what the prayers are for many today. Abraham didn’t pray for God to save the righteous only, he asked Him to save all the people if even only 10 righteous people were found. Most prayers, that I have heard, are for God to deliver those who are His before the destruction comes. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; lovingkindness and truth go before You.” (Psalms 89:14) “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand all things.” (Proverbs 28:5)
Unfortunately, the only people found righteous was Lot and because he was related to Abraham the Lord had compassion on his whole family and sent them out of the city before He destroyed it. God’s mercy and grace are always available to us when we are obedient to the Lord. But we also need to realize that what we “want” is not always the merciful action that God wants for us, His ways are much higher than ours! "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)
Did the Lord hate the people of Sodom and Gomorrah? No! But He hated the sin. It is important for us to recognize how Lot ended up living in Sodom and Gomorrah. “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.” (Genesis 13:5-11 emphasis mine) What was the deciding factor of Lot’s choice? The land was lush and fertile. That meant plenty of water for his livestock and abundant food. He looked at the land and saw that it would satisfy his physical needs. But what about his spiritual needs? He did not even take a minute to ask the Lord for direction. “Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD.” (Genesis 13:12-13 emphasis mine) Lot’s decision reminds me of the people at the time of Samuel, they weren’t content with the Lord’s judges ruling over them, they wanted a king like all the other nations. “ ... everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25 emphasis mine)
Abraham wasn’t concerned about Lot taking “the best land”, his hope and trust were in the Lord of Hosts! After Lot departed the Lord spoke to Abraham, “The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, ‘Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.’" (Genesis 13:14-17 emphasis mine)
Abraham understood a foundational truth that you and I must also understand, "Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it.” (Deuteronomy 10:14) “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.” (Proverbs 16:1) Lot did not apply this truth to his life. Because Abraham understood these truths, he was blessed again. But notice that while God was “giving” all the land to Abraham, He also commanded Abraham to walk the land. His feet had to walk over the entire land in order to possess it. What was Abraham’s response? “Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.” (Genesis 13:18 emphasis mine )
Every moment of our walk with the Lord prepares us for our future. No temptation or tribulation is wasted in God’s eyes. "Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) Everything that Abraham experienced was preparing him for the future. The most difficult test of his life was still to come. If Abraham’s heart had not changed and become a reflection of the Lord’s he would not be ready.
My friend, are you prepared for the future? That’s a very serious question. Don’t answer too quickly. It is a question that the Holy Spirit is needed to search out your heart. To reveal your true heart. We are told that the bride is to make herself ready. Do not misunderstand that verse to mean you have to prepare yourself apart from the Lord. The truth is, you prepare yourself by allowing the Lord to mold you, to shape you, to give you a new heart, a new nature. “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” (Revelation 19:7 emphasis mine) “On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,’ will it?” (Romans 9:20) “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 emphasis mine) And don't forget you cannot be His disciple if you do not turn everything over to Him that He may be Lord of your life and not just your Savior. Are you a disciple?
Abba Father, Your Word is sharper than a two-edged sword! Forgive us our sins, Father, as we have so turned our freedom in Christ into a social gospel and have left You entirely out of it! Your Word is life! Your Word is Truth! Without Your Truth, all else is lies and brings destruction. My heart cries out the words of Your psalmist, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26) My soul longs and even yearns for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. (Psalm 84:2 in my words) Heal us and deliver us, Lord, that we may receive Your promise in truth, “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26 emphasis mine) You are my all in All and I bow down and worship You. I pray for those who are reading this Word from You and pray that the eyes of their heart be opened and drawn into Your presence where there is the fullness of joy and everlasting peace. This I pray in the blessed name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen!