Sunday, April 24, 2005

Blocking The Promises

Intro: I wish people could always get along.

  1. No more wars

  2. No more

  3. No more bickering kids

  4. No more husbands and wives hurting each other

  5. You know, we hear of wars and fighting around the world

  6. But I think that the greatest pain occurs when we experience that discomfort in our own families.

  7. As we read Genesis 13 today, we will again look at Abraham's family

Read Genesis 13:1-18
Tran. The importance of Abraham to the history of our faith can be seen in how he is mentioned throughout the scriptures.

  1. 188 verses in OT

  2. 76 verses in NT

  3. 264 verses in the entire Bible

  4. Abraham's name occurs 302 times in the whole Bible

We cannot ignore the role that Abraham plays in helping us understand our faith. Last week we looked at some initial details about Abraham and his wife. Today the connections are between Abraham and his nephew Lot.

T.S. The chapter we look at today can be divided into three parts:

  1. The problem

  2. Their positions

  3. The Promise

  1. The Problem

    1. I think Abram originally allowed Lot to accompany him because he wanted family nearby.

    2. But eventually Lot became a thorn.

    3. The events recorded in Genesis 13 represent the first signs of trouble between Abram and Lot

    4. Even with all the troubles Abram had in Egypt, Abraham had continued to gather considerable wealth – in livestock and in silver and gold. But so had Lot.

    5. Up till now, Abram and Lot had traveled together. But something was changing.

    6. With both Abram and Lot having large herds, there would not be room for both to graze their animals. There was the additional problem in that the original inhabitants of the land, the Canannites and the Perizzites, also had animals to graze.

    7. The conflict probably did not start with Abram and Lot, but with their hired hands. But eventually Abram and Lot had to deal with the problem themselves.

(Appl.) There is something about conflict that is confusing. We have learned, and we have taught our children, “Get along with everyone. Avoid conflict.” Yet conflict, whether it be a mere difference of opinion or something more demanding of us, is part of life. If I am going to stand for what is right, if I am going to recognize the role of God in my life, there will be conflict. As adults we need to learn, as parents we need to teach, that to the extent possible it is good to avoid conflict – but there are times when we will find ourselves in conflict with others. We also have to teach our children, and we have to learn ourselves, to respond to that conflict in the most positive way possible. Let me suggest four steps in handling conflict:

  1. Acknowledge the conflict

  2. Pray

  3. Offer a solution

  4. Be willing to compromise on a solution,
    but not on principles

    1. Abram and Lot had to find a solution to their conflict.

  1. Their Positions

    1. I expect this conflict was not pleasant. Abraham called it “quarreling”. So Abraham begins by offering a solution.

(Ill.) There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “In conflict, be fair and generous.” And, though I doubt that Abraham knew the proverb, this is exactly what he is doing.”

    1. Standing on the western hills looking to the East, Abraham has some very wise words. Read Genesis 13:8-9.

(Ill.) Picture this – Abram and Lot are standing looking East toward the Jordan valley. Abram is suggest (as he says left and right) that one go to the North and the other to the South – effectively dividing the land in two.

    1. Now look at what Lot actually does – he looks over the Jordan valley. He sees the lush greenery along the Jordan river, he sees the opportunity for plenty of water for the animals. And Lot makes his decision. He'll take it. Rather than creating a dividing line between the North and the South, Lot makes a choice that keeps the most fertile, the most irrigated land for himself. He is also choosing the land in which the most wicked, the most evil people known at the time.

(Appl.) And there is only one word to describe Lot's choice - “Greed”.

    1. Abram will take the the drier hills to the west of the Jordan valley.

  1. The Promise

    1. I suppose that if we stopped right there, we would feel that Abram got the raw end of the deal.

    2. But God still has something to say.

    3. It was when Abram had first passed through Palestine that God had made the promise, and now it happens again.

    4. Lot has left, Abram is left with the poorer choice.

    5. And God still took Abram and had him look – North, South, East, and West – and everything that Abram saw would be his.

(Appl.) There is a lesson here for us – when God makes a promise, he keeps it. Abram may have delayed the fulfillment of the promise when he allowed Lot to take the best land available. But he could not defeat the purpose of God.

Scripture is full of promises. And through our sin, through our disbelief, through our neglect – we may slow down their fulfillment but God remains faithful – Somebody has counted that there are 1260 promises in the Bible and though they may not all see their completion today, the fact that God gives them, should be sufficient evidence that they are still true.

Conclusion: Let me conclude by reminding you that Abram is a man.

  1. Not really so different than you or me.

  2. He, like us, is a broken man.

  3. A man who makes mistakes

  4. A man who sins

    Yet God chose to bless him.  As broken people who choose to place our lives in the hands of God, we too will experience God's blessing.

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