Genesis 14:13-14 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

Abram Rescues Lot (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

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. 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. 

Genesis 14:13-14

I love Abram’s example here in Genesis 14:13-14. These two verses are filled with rich wisdom from our Lord. In this post I’ll share about Abram’s example in three specific areas, riches, readiness, and rescue.

Riches:

I find it amazing that Abram had 318 trained men born in his household. This is an indication of Abram’s tremendous wealth. These were those born in his household and trained for war. How many weren’t born in his household? How many men weren’t trained for war? How many women were a part of Abram’s household? How many children? I work for a Fire Department that employs just 80 people and our budget is around 12 million per year. Today the company Twitter Inc. has 300 employees and it’s worth an estimated 1 billion dollars. I don’t know what Abram’s net worth was but there’s no doubt that God put it way up there. How our culture admonishes us to chase after material things. Yet the key to prosperity, perhaps counter-intuitively, is modeled here for us by Abram. Abram is a great example of living life God’s way for he lived to …seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things were added unto Abram. (Matthew 6:33)

Readiness:

I also find it interesting that Abram, the father of faith, had plans and preparations to the extent that he had trained 318 men for war. I’m often approached by young men who want to establish themselves in a career as a firefighter.

“Pray for me, that such and such fire department will hire me,” they say. That’s a great request and I do pray for friends to be hired. But I often think that those young men should also be praying for God to bless their preparation and their education.

Faith doesn’t absolve us of our responsibility to prepare.

It’s our job to plan. It’s our job to prepare. And it’s also our job to be completely flexible to change the plan when the Holy Spirit directs us to. Dwight Eisenhower who planned the D-Day invasion, the largest invasion of its kind in history, once said:

Plans are nothing; planning is everything.

Rescue:

Finally we see here an opportunity presented to Abram. An opportunity to demonstrate Abram’s God given love for his nephew Lot. It might have been easy for Abram to say, “Well he made some questionable decisions. He decided to hang with the wrong crowd over there in Sodom and Gomorrah. He’s made his own bed and now he has to lie in it.” But instead, Abram seized the opportunity and, against staggering odds, pursued the forces that captured Lot until he was able to rescue him.

One of the biggest mistakes I ever made in my life occurred a number of years ago when a nephew of mine came down with appendicitis. He was in his early 20′s living out an adventure in Mexico at the time. The hospital refused to perform the surgery until he came up with the $3,000 for the operation. He asked for my help but in my heart I questioned whether or not the need was real. I felt that he had made some questionable decisions and I wondered if I would be truly helping if I sent the money. Now of course there are instances when someone is caught up in alcohol or drug abuse or gambling or some other addiction when it’s completely counter productive to help. But in this instance enabling wasn’t a factor. The need for an appendectomy was real. I blew it. Fortunately his older brother was able to send him the money and it turned out well.

Are you someone’s uncle? Someone’s youth sports coach? Someone’s supervisor? Someone’s father or mother? Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as opportunities are presented. When the time comes, when you have the power to help someone close to you, seek the Lord then seize the opportunity!

When I was studying to lead my unit in the war, we were required to read an ancient story about a Chinese general named Wu Chi. One of Wu Chi’s soldiers was suffering from an abscess — Wu Chi himself cared for the wound even sucking out the infection. The soldier’s mother, hearing this, wailed and lamented. Somebody asked her, ‘Why do you cry? Your son is only a common soldier, and yet the commander-in-chief himself has sucked the poison from his sore.’ The woman responded, ‘Many years ago Lord Wu performed a similar service for my husband, who never left him afterwards… And now that he has done the same for my son, he too will follow Wu I know not where.’

As told by the Chaplain in Traveler and the Chaplain

Seize opportunities to help those close to you, in Jesus name, that they might be drawn to Him.

References:

Jon Courson

J. Vernon McGee

Traveler and the Chaplain

Churches unite to help thousands of stranded passengers in Moscow’s airports

Stranded at Moscow airport

Apparently the U.S. isn’t the only country dealing with flight delays. Due to a recent ice storm that hit a large area of Central Russia hundreds of flights have been delayed. The airport in Moscow is designed to hold around 3,000 people but the crowds have swollen to 10,000 due to the flight delays. Interestingly, in this nation that not so long ago claimed atheism as their national religion, Churches and Synagogues have stepped up to assist with food, bottles of water, and perhaps most appreciated of all, bunches of those moist towlette thingies. If you’re interested you can read more at Churches unite to help thousands of stranded passengers in Moscow’s airports | Russia | RIA Novosti.

How great is it to see God’s people in action.

This is how it should be because the Bible tells us that…

…the fruit of the Spirit is love…

Galatians 5:22

Genesis 1:14-19 — The Fourth Day of Creation

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

Genesis 1:14 – 19

Given this mornings lunar eclipse I thought it appropriate to repost from Genesis 1:14-19. The total eclipse began at 2:40 AM and lasted 72 minutes. You can read about it in the Washington Post article Lunar eclipse coincides with winter solstice.

On the fourth day God created the sun and the moon. The sun speaks of the great light of the world, Jesus Christ, for He said, “I am the light of the world…” (John 8:12) And the moon speaks of the lesser light, you and I, for Jesus also said, of His people, “You are the light of the world…” (Matthew 5:14) The only reason the moon shines is because it reflects the light of the sun and in like manner the only reason we shine, as a light of the world, is because we reflect Jesus Christ.

Perhaps you saw these two lights interact early this morning during the eclipse. A great and important lesson is found in here. When the world comes between the sun and the moon we on earth experience an eclipse and the light of the sun is blocked from people’s view. That is exactly what happens to me when I get caught up in the things of this world. When I become consumed by my performance at work, by a desire to prosper financially, by a pension for entertainment, or other things of the world. When I allow the world to come between me and my Lord, my own light is eclipsed, and I fail to reflect the great light of Jesus Christ. The same is true for any Christian. The same is true for you.

Remember that you and I are the church and as the church goes, so goes the world.

Let nothing come between you and Jesus.

For more go to Ray Stedman’s teaching on Genesis 1:14 – 19 or Jon Courson’s teaching on Genesis 1.

Genesis 4:9-15 — “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

“My Brother’s Keeper” by Ronnie T. Tres Reyes. Top Five finalist, 2008 Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office “Isang Pitik sa Charity” photo contest. Reyes describes his photo: “Taken one chilly night outside a McDonald’s along Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City. For over a year, this five year old boy has been taking care of his baby brother every night on the steps of the restaurant. Sometimes he lies on the concrete and allows himself to be the baby’s bed and source of warmth.”

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Genesis 4:9

Am I my brother’s keeper?” (v. 9) Cain’s insolent answer to God’s question reminds us of the same condition of heart found in Pharaoh when he said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey him…” (Exodus 5:2) The difference is that Pharaoh didn’t have a direct awareness and communication with God like Cain did. Given the level of direct communication that Cain enjoyed with God, it’s hard to believe that Cain could answer God with such hardness of heart. But that’s one of the consequences of sin. Cain committed the first recorded murder, and his sin had the effect of hardening his heart toward God, causing him to question. Questioning God’s ways is no more rational than not obeying God in the first place. Listen to what God said to Job and his friends when they questioned Him:

“Who is this that darkens my counsel

with words without knowledge?

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?

Tell me, if you understand.

Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!

Who stretched a measuring line across it?

On what were its footings set,

or who laid its cornerstone—

while the morning stars sang together

and all the angels shouted for joy?

“Who shut up the sea behind doors

when it burst forth from the womb,

when I made the clouds its garment

and wrapped it in thick darkness,

when I fixed limits for it

and set its doors and bars in place,

when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;

here is where your proud waves halt’?

“Have you ever given orders to the morning,

or shown the dawn its place,

that it might take the earth by the edges

and shake the wicked out of it?” (Job 38:2-13)

“Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?

Let him who accuses God answer him!” (Job 40:2)

Lord please keep our hearts tender toward You, keep us from questioning Your will, help us to give thanks in everything. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Lord, please keep our hearts tender toward others, keep us far from the way of Cain. (Jude 1:11)

Am I my brother’s keeper?” (v. 9) The way of guilt is to deny responsibility. The truth is that God has in fact made us our brother’s keeper. God tells you and I that each of us should look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4) Notice that Philippians 2:4 instructs us to take care of our own responsibilities as well as those of others. Taking care of ourselves, our own family, our own brothers and sisters in the Lord, and also others, it’s all part of God’s plan for you and for me. Matthew Henry writes that caring for others is, “a great duty, which is strictly required of us, but is generally neglected by us.”

The church is God’s instrument to minister to the poor, the sick, the lonely, and the old of our world.

You are the church.

Love God.

Love people.


“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25:34-40


References:

Blue Letter Bible

Bible Gateway

Ray Stedman

C.H. Spurgeon

Matthew Henry

Don’t Go Rafting Without a Baptist in the Boat

This is just too funny not to share. In case you’ve never heard her before, when she says “Left Brain” she’s referring to her husband. Check it out.

Genesis 2:18 — It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Genesis 2:18

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) Here we are in only the second chapter of the Bible and already God is declaring that it is not good to be isolated. God in His wisdom of course knows that isolation is associated with all kinds of problems. In fact, according to the Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, isolation as a predictor of mortality is comparable with cigarette smoking — your risk of dying increases by 2 – 3 times if you’re isolated vs. if you’re socially connected. Besides mortality — depression, illness, and a host of other problems accompany isolation.

Your spiritual life is also very connected to the dynamic of isolation vs. social connection. Just watch the lives of those who attempt to walk their Christian walk apart from attending church vs. those who do attend. Pick someone you know who says that their way of connecting with God is through the enjoyment of nature, or by hanging out with Christian friends, or by self study. Of course there’s nothing wrong with any of those things, but, at the same time pick another who you know attends church, say, 2 or more times a week. You’ll find the difference in the depth of relationship with God between these two to be striking. By and large, you’ll find the church goer to be happier as well. According to author and speaker Dr. Kevin Gilmartin, those who attend church regularly are 40% more likely to be happy than those who don’t. (See previous posts: Congregate and Rest)

“I will make a helper suitable for him.” God’s desire for Adam was to make a helper for him because Adam alone can’t live the blessed life that God has in mind for him without Eve. Furthermore man can’t execute his part of God’s plan for mankind here on earth without women. God gave Adam His plan and agenda, but both Adam and his wife Eve are to work together, as a team, to live out God’s plan and to advance God’s agenda. Adam, the husband, has been put in a position of leadership and Eve, the wife, has been put in a position of service. Not that Adam wouldn’t serve Eve because any great leader will serve those he leads. (Traveler and the Chaplain, p. 56), But Eve has been formally appointed, by God, to be Adam’s helper. In the world’s view this certainly has a negative connotation, but in Gods view, in Christ’s view, the helper is esteemed highly for Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)

They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said,

“If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Mark 9:33-35



References:

Blue Letter Bible

Bible Gateway

David Guzik

J. Vernon McGee

Jon Courson

Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine

Kurt Bennett, Traveler and the Chaplain, p. 56, Enoch Publishing 2009

Genesis 2:10-15 — God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work

A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Genesis 2:10-15

The second two rivers mentioned, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, we know of today. We know their location, in fact, you can go to Bing Maps right now and find the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates, just to the North of Basrah, in Iraq, which I’ve marked on the map with an orange push pin. Interestingly, the headwaters of these two rivers are not very far apart — both are found in East Central Turkey. Although we don’t know the location of the other two rivers, perhaps, the location of the Tigris and Euphrates headwaters gives us a clue as to the location, or former location of the Garden of Eden.

In Genesis 2:15 we read, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” I was reading an article recently on stress that listed the top 10 stressors in life. Guess what? Retirement made the top 10! Here in Genesis 2:15 we see that God has created this perfect environment for Adam and notice that, included in the perfect environment, is work! God has designed us to work. Over the years as I’ve watched friends deal with unemployment and retirement I’ve seen all kinds of problems as a result of leading a life without it, without work. According to the American Journal of Public Health men who are unemployed experience more somitization (similar to hypochondriasis), anxiety, and depression than those who are employed. The unemployed also take more medications, visit their doctors more, and spend more time in bed sick even when the unemployed and employed receive the same number of diagnoses.

In Mark chapter 1 Jesus saw some of the disciples working, they were fishing to be exact. As he passed by them He called to them and said, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17) Perhaps God has blessed you in such a way that you’re in a position where you don’t have to work. That’s great! God is good. He’s given you time that most others don’t have. I want to encourage you to use it for His glory. I know of a number of people in this position — several use their time volunteering at a dump in Mexico, they minister to the impoverished people there, several others I know have dedicated themselves to helping in their church. Use your time to influence people for God’s kingdom. Use your time to fish for men!

If you are perhaps younger, and you have to work to provide for your family, as I do, then give thanks to God for your job if you’re employed. And if you’re not employed, I want to encourage you to work as God desires you to. A number of years ago a friend of mine worked a job in a cabinet shop for less money than what he would have made had he collected unemployment. Some said that he was a fool to take less money, just so he could continue to work, but during this time, I could see the Lord doing a work in this man. His attitude and his work ethic were growing. Conversely, I’ve watched friends take their unemployment and enter into a downward spiral of inactivity. Their initiative eroded away. If you can’t find work for pay, then work for free. Help in the children’s ministry, find a widow or someone fatherless who’s in need and help them — these are things that are pure and faultless in God’s sight. (James 1:27)

As with everything God directs us to do, we’ll be at our best, at our healthiest, and at our happiest when we’re in the flow of God’s will.

God wants you to work.



References:

Blue Letter Bible

Bible Gateway

American Journal of Public Health

Those Who Never Saw the Light of Day

This man, who’s mother decided not to abort against the advice of her doctors, is Andrea Bocelli, an Italian tenor who has sold more than 70,000,000 copies of his albums. He is the greatest selling classical music artist of all time. He was voted one of People magazine’s 50 most beautiful people and has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

How many great men and women has God sent into the world, who never saw the light of day, because a different decision was made? Men and women, who would have been even greater than Bocelli perhaps. Men and women who would have discovered the cure for cancer perhaps. Men and women who God sent to this world to bless us.

Choose life.

your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:16

To see one of Bocelli’s most popular performances, view the video below.

References:

Wiki on Bocelli

BibleGateway.com