Instant Gratification

Genesis 14:22-23  22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath 23 that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’

drive_throughWe live in a world that thrives on instant gratification.  Why wait?  You can have it now!  Do you want that new house, new car, new phone, new shirt, and new TV?  No money, no problem.  Just charge it!  Are you hungry for dinner?  Don’t take hours to prepare one at home; go through the drive thru and it will be ready in less than three minutes.  Do you want a new life and a new wife?  Don’t try to work it out; just divorce the current one and move on to where your heart leads.  If you you want it, you can have it… and you can have it NOW!  That’s the way of this world.  We don’t wait anymore.

Not Abraham.  He knew there was a great promise coming.  He knew that God had promised him something so great, it was worth waiting for.  He would have the wealth of many nations and would set the world record for number of descendants.  Yes, riches would someday come his way.  So when the king of Sodom offered him great wealth, he had the foresight to turn it down:  “I know that my promise is coming.  And when it does, I don’t want anyone getting credit for it besides God!”   What wisdom is this! Abraham knew that God would take care of him.  He knew that the riches from God are greater than the riches from man.

What riches are we settling for?  You see, sometimes we need to turn down what seems good now so that we can receive what is great later.  Only God can bring true riches.  He alone can bring healing, peace, joy, love, and restoration.  Yet we look to so many people and places for solutions.  And when HE comes through, we don’t even recognize that He was the one who did it!  Abraham didn’t take his chances.  He just turned down the riches now so that God would have more glory when the real reward came.

*Are you settling for the current riches of Sodom or believing for the future riches of God?

 

The last piece of cake

Genesis 13:14-15   14 After Lot had gone, the Lord said to Abram, “Look as far as you can see in every direction—north and south, east and west. 15 I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants as a permanent possession.

cakeKids don’t always choose what is fair.  For example, if there is a chunk of cake left and you have two kids, an argument will ensue as to who gets the biggest piece.  One method of teaching your kids a valuable lesson is this:  Tell one of the kids,” okay Johnny, you can go ahead and cut the cake.”   So Johnny cuts the cake with a big grin on his face.  Why is he smiling?  Because he didn’t cut it down the middle.  He finishes cutting the piece in two and quickly grabs the bigger piece.  “Wait a minute, Johnny,” mom says. “You got to cut the cake.  Sarah gets to choose which piece she wants.”  And off goes little Sarah with her bigger piece of cake.  Johnny just learned a lesson about equality and fairness.  Brilliant.

In Genesis 13, there was only one piece of cake, er, land left.  So Abram tells Lot to go ahead and pick what he wants.  Lot chooses a beautiful piece of land in the east and heads his merry way.  Now at first glance, Lot got the best pick.  There was plenty of water and trees and grass.  It had everything he wanted.  There was just one problem: it was next to a town called Sodom.  Maybe you know that story… Sodom ruined Lot.

Abram on the other hand is content with the leftovers.  He knows that God is going to take care of him so it doesn’t really matter.  As he heads out to the other place, the dry land, God stops him and gives him a promise. “I am giving you everything you can see in every direction.”  When I look at the surface, it seems like Abram got the bad end of the deal.  When they took the first look at the land they were getting, Lot’s looked better.  But Abram ended up with the better piece of cake.  He ended up with God’s promise, protection, and greatest possession.

*Are you stuck looking at the surface? It’s possible that what you see isn’t all that God has for you.

The open road

Genesis 12:1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country,  your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”

Open RoadSome people are more adventurous than others.  I think of those that love to get on their motorcycle, hit the open road, and take it wherever it leads them.  I’m not one of those people.  I like GPS.  I like to know where I am going.  In fact, when I have an upcoming road trip to an unfamiliar place, I like to get on google maps and take a look at the street view of where I am going.  That way I will be familiar with my surroundings once I get there.  That may seem over the top to you, but I don’t enjoy getting lost.

So what if God were to say to me, “go to the place I will show you?”  Not the place I HAVE shown you.  No, the place I WILL show you.  That makes me a bit uneasy.  It leaves me searching for my GPS.  But I don’t know the coordinates to plug in.  What’s the ending address, God?  “I will show you,” He says.

It seems to me that God’s instructions to Abram were lacking destination.  Maybe it was because the emphasis wasn’t the arrival but rather the leaving.  Maybe it was more about the drive than pulling into the driveway. 

God asks us all to leave our starting place.  He asks us to leave the places of sin that remain within us.  He asks us to walk away from the world as we know it and enter the journey toward the heavenly destination He has for us.  I find the biggest challenge to be leaving when I don’t know the exact destination.  And that is what faith is for.  Faith challenges me to trust when I don’t know what turns lie ahead.  Faith urges me to get in the car and leave.  Will I leave those old places today?  Will I set out on the open road and engage in the journey God has for me?

*Abraham was called a man of faith.  Like Abraham, will you have the faith to leave old places without knowing your destination address? 

Whatcha doin?

Genesis 11:5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building.

watcha doinThere’s this TV show that my kids watch called Phineas and Ferb.  I might watch it sometimes too.  What I love about it is that the plot is the same yet different on every episode.  That is what makes it so funny and creative.  They manage to write different stories with essentially the same plot and make them fun to watch.  Brilliant!  One of the plots in every episode is that Phineas and Ferb build something ridiculous.  And by ridiculous I don’t mean a nice lego spaceship.  I mean an actual spaceship or a time machine… something like that.  Then their friend Isabella stops by and asks, “watcha doin?”

Watcha Doin?  It’s a statement of curiosity, a comment of observation.  It is said when someone shows up on the scene to see what you are doing.  And in Genesis 11 we see God saying just that.  In this story, we see many men coming together to do something great.  They plan on building a tower to the heavens so that the whole world will take notice of them.  They have set out to glorify their own name.  That’s when God shows up and says, “whatcha doin?”

It seems like God shows up in my life, too.  When I am walking down the wrong path, making the wrong choices, and living for myself, I hear His voice asking me the same thing that Isabella asks Phineas.  Whatcha doin?  And I am thankful for that voice.  I am thankful that I serve a God who cares so much about my future that He steps into my present.  He intersects my path and leads me to paths of righteousness.  He reaches down and brings me up to a higher calling.

*Are you off track today?  Hear God asking you, “watcha doin?”

Multiply

Genesis 9:7 As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.

large familyI am part of a church with lots of kids.  Really, I mean it.  On a given Sunday, close to half of the people there are under the age of 18.  We get this verse at Abundant Life.  I have friends with 5, 6, 7, 8, and even 9 children.  Yes, they are a fruitful bunch!  My wife and I have four children, which some days seems like a lot.  But when we hang out with our church friends, we feel like underachievers.  God Bless ’em.

God told Noah and his family to be fruitful and multiply.  As I read this passage of scripture, I wonder if God is speaking to us today at a deeper level.  I wonder if this “be fruitful and multiply” thing has more to it than making babies.  You see, Jesus also talked about being fruitful and multiplying.  He said to go and make disciples of all nations.  He instructed his men to multiply the kingdom of God.  We are giving birth to children, but are we giving birth to spiritual children?  

As a Christian, each one of us has been given the same command: make disciples… be fruitful and multiply.  This is not only the calling of pastors and evangelists; it is the calling of a believer.  For if the believer is not fruitful, the world will not find Jesus through him.  And if the believer does not multiply, the kingdom of God will become like stagnant waters and begin to stink.  The church should never be setting still.  There should be new life happening.  New faces should be walking through the doors and life should be springing up.  So be fruitful and multiply church.  God told us to.

*Spiritually speaking, how are you doing on being fruitful and multiplying?