Monthly Archives: January 2016

Lessons From the Wayward Nephew – Lot

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The first recorded war was between 4 kings and money, but it also included a search and rescue mission.

The first recorded war was between 4 kings and money, but it also included a search and rescue mission.

While writing Faith Steps for Military Families, I learned about the Bible’s first recorded war. It’s found in Genesis 14. During Abram’s (later called Abraham) life, wars and rivalries among kings routinely happened, but the first recorded war in God’s Word was between four eastern kings most of us have not heard of before, except for possibly one, King Chedorlaomer (of modern Iran) and five southern kings, that included the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Who was King Chedorlaomer?

Not much is known about him, except that he was quite powerful. It was customary in those days that a city that was conquered paid tribute (money) to the king that overthrew that city.1 Five cities, including Sodom and Gomorrah paid tribute to King Chedorlaomer for twelve years. This is a testament to the might of King Chedorlaomer’s army.

“In the thirteenth year [those five cities paying tribute] rebelled” (Gen. 14:4).They joined forces and rebelled against King Chedorlaomer. They withheld the tribute owed to him. This kind of rebellion infuriated King Chedorlaomer. By refusing to pay the tribute, they predicted it would have a devastating effect to the territory known as the “way of the kings” which was the corridor of commerce between Egypt and the four eastern kingdoms.2 Whoever controlled this land bridge maintained a monopoly on international trade.3

In retaliation, King Chedorlaomer wasted no time and swiftly conquered this quick-forming alliance. When King Chedorlaomer overtook Sodom, he captured Lot, his family, and his possessions. Recall that Lot was Abram’s nephew. Being a prisoner of King Chedorlaomer meant torture, slavery, or death.2

“When Abram [later called Abraham] heard that his nephew had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred eighteen of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and routed them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. Then he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his nephew Lot with his goods, and the women and the people.” Genesis 14:14-16

It’s plausible that Chedorlaomer underestimated the warrior inside Abraham as he defeated King Chedorlaomer in Damascus, even with a measly 318 fighting men. But God showed His favor on Abram. But how did Lot get himself in trouble with Chedorlaomer in the first place?

Lot – the Drifter

Lot had a character flaw that we see in many younger men and women today. Having no firm goals or sense of purpose, he drifted through life.4 Lacking a father (his father died when Lot was a young boy) to act as a compass for his life, probably contributed to his hunger for the sinful lifestyle in the city of Sodom. Coupled with his greedy desire for rich goods, Lot lived for the moment. As a result, he didn’t contemplate the consequences of his short-sightedness. By seeking after the sinful and greedy lifestyle of Sodom, he eventually blended in with the other citizens in this doomed city. This choice cost Lot everything, including his freedom when King Chedorlaomer overtook the town to punish it for withholding the tribute. Wise ole Uncle Abram had to do the dirty work and go to war with King Chedorlaomer to retrieve Lot.

Why Is This Important?

This may have been an incident that crossed several kingdoms–Abram caught in the middle between Lot’s greed and sinful lifestyle and a scandal between kings. It reveals God in control of earthly situations between secular kings and His warriors. God’s men numbered just 318 compared to the armies of the four kings!5

In the midst of a power struggle to control the cash cow of the trade routes, at the center of this scuttle is the story between two related men. Abram knew the foolishness of his nephew’s decisions. He could have taken the approach that Lot got what he deserved and refused to go to war to get him back. After all, living foolishly eventually breeds trouble.

Abram, however, took the perspective of grace. Grace says, “to extend kindness to a person who doesn’t deserve it.” Even God extended grace to Lot by giving favor to Abram to conquer the armies of the four kings in order to retrieve Lot. 

We Were Like Lot Once

Before the Lord reigned in our hearts, we were a Lot, too.6 Prior to giving our hearts over to the Lord, we were lured by the world’s goods and sinful offerings without thinking of the long-range consequences. We allowed our selfish desires to seek and obtain what didn’t satisfy. Sometimes we got away with a sinful lifestyle, but maybe for some of us it led us down the road of trouble. Was there an Abram in your life to go to bat for you? As Lot was carried off by King Chedorlaomer, considered part of the plundered loot, I wonder if he questioned where his lifestyle choices led him.

Is there a Lot in your family? Don’t give up on her or him. Instead, we can be an Abram in that person’s life and pray. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous (godly and upright) person has great power as it is working” (ESV). Your prayers, prayed in faith, will change things. There is power praying in Jesus’ name and that power will change the course of someone’s life, circumstances, and choices. While praying for the Lot in your life, your own faith will be strengthened as you see God move. We can trust God because He is sovereign over all our circumstances. One of my favorite Scripture verses is 2 Chronicles 16:9. “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the entire earth, to strengthen those whose heart is true to him” (NRSV). God is looking for faithful hearts to be prayer warriors for the Lots in our lives.

Blessings,

Lisa

Notes:

1 Bible Note for Genesis 14:4-16, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, Inc. 1989).

2 Officers’ Christian Fellowship, “Abram Goes to War,” http//www.ocfusa.org.  (accessed 29 May 2014).

3 Ibid.

4 Bible Profile on Lot, Life Application Bible.

5 Officers’ Christian Fellowship, “Abram Goes to War,” http//www.ocfusa.org.  (accessed 29 May 2014).

6 Ibid.

Debilitating Disappointment or Divine Hope?

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Illustration depicting a green roadsign with a disappointment concept. Blue sky background.

Disappointment is a sure thing in life, but God has given us a plan to help us get through it.

Disappointment is nothing new. We’ve all been hurt by some form of disappointment. Maybe it was a broken commitment; a deployment extended by another month, your desired duty station didn’t come through, an un-kept promise, circumstances that didn’t work out, financial downturn, another miscarriage, infertility, or an unmet expectation. More often than not, we become disappointed with people. It’s important to work through our disappointments or we’ll be mired in this debilitating state.

Since we’re guaranteed to be disappointed in this life, its paramount we spiritually work through what or who disappointed us. This is because unprocessed disappointment will cause us to distance ourselves from God. Additionally, if left untouched by God’s hand, it will build up and cut us off from the Holy Spirit’s influence in our lives. What’s worse, disappointment will quench the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts.

What’s the Take-Away

To spiritually process the feeling of being let down, start by going to the Lord. Ask Him to show you His perspective. Ask, “What is the take-away” that I can apply to this disappointing circumstance? What do I need to do or change in myself in order to move beyond daily disappointment? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you spiritually discern what He wants you to learn.. And finally ask, “How can I take my focus off the disappointment and seek His solutions?” By asking God to be a part of this process, you are allowing Him to be in the driver’s seat. He is in control and you become dependent on Him. This allows God to unearth the root cause of your disappointment that may have gone undetected. When we’re in this mindset, we position ourselves to hear from Him. We focus less on the subject of our disappointment and more on the Lord and seeking His solution. Additional things to think about when processing disappointment are

Acknowledge that Jesus cares for your disappointed soul. He experienced his own share of disappointment. For this reason, internalize the truth that Jesus will sustain you. David had many bouts of discouragement, but He also knew that God was the energy source to overcome discouragement.

Commit to daily seeking His grace to encourage your heart. I think of this as heart maintenance. The more you go before the Lord, seeking Him will become your first response. Satan would love nothing more than to get you to focus on yourself, your fear, your frustration, and your fatigue over the situation. Resist Satan by finding Scripture that encourages your heart. Some examples are: Amos 3:3, Psalm 55:22,

 Realize that the Lord may have a purpose behind the situation that has you discouraged. Immediately turn to God. Let Him know that on your own you don’t know what to do or how you’ll face it. Since you may also get respected and trusted advice from others, remember to ask God to make His will absolutely clear. God can use anything that touches us to bring us  closer to his purpose, reveal something new about His character, steer us in the right direction, or some other intended result.

 Pray for those who have disappointed you pleases the Lord. This can be hard to do. If not for the Lord’s help, it would be impossible. It may help if you view those who’ve disappointed you as human beings with their own flaws, knowing that “all fall short.” See them through eyes of grace. Praying for those who’ve disappointed us doesn’t mean they’ve gotten away with hurting us, but it does allow our hearts to be receptive to hearing from God. If our faith and devotion to Jesus is genuine, praying for those who’ve disappointed us will please God’s heart. And that is one of the purposes of the Christ-follower. If you don’t know how to do this, ask God to reveal it to you.

 Don’t shift your focus away from the Lord. Jesus came to restore our hearts from perpetual disappointment to divine hopefulness. This doesn’t mean an easy life, but it does mean a life of hopeful expectation from the Lord. But He does expect us to do our part. “To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master…so our eyes look to the Lord our God…” (Psalm 123:1-2).

Additionally, by overly focusing on ourselves, we are robbed of opportunities to bless others that cross our paths are discouraged. Since God mainly speaks to us through His Word, open your Bible and read the stories of God’s faithfulness to those who experienced discouragement and despair. Ask Him to speak to your heart in such a way that you will have guidance. King Jehoshaphat, upon learning that his enemies were on their way to attack his kingdom, he got on his knees and said to God and his people, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” If you have never before read his story, it is an interesting one. See what God did on King Jehoshaphat’s behalf. It can be found in 2 Chronicles 20.

Memorize Scripture that encourages your downcast heart. Some examples are Romans 8:28

Remember to say thank you. God hears our prayers. When you speak, He’s listening and He will respond with help. We ultimately want to be able to say, “This was the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23). Because of His lovingkindness and guidance, don’t forget to say thanks. The best way you can bless the heart of God is by using your life story of how God intervened in your discouraging situation to lift the spirits of another’s soul stricken with disappointment. By doing so, you acknowledge before God and people the Source of your help. And God gets all the glory.

Therefore, cast your disappointment upon Christ so you can be freed of what has you disheartened and claim divine hope. Allow God’s grace (undeserved favor of God) to help you triumph over disappointment. The Bible says, “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:5).

Blessings to you,

Lisa

To order a copy of my book, Faith Steps For Military Families, click here. Do you have a thought on this topic? Comment below. You can also follow me at http://www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies and on Twitter @lisanixonphilli