You Can Choose For Yourself Or You Can Let God Choose For You

Monday, September 9, 2013

After Abraham obeyed the word of the Lord to leave his country and his family so that he could give him the land he had promised him, we find him and his nephew Lot parting ways in chapter thirteen of the book of Genesis. Their herds and possessions had simply grown so big that the land couldn't support both of them. As Abraham and Lot stood overlooking the entire land below them Abraham gives Lot first choice of the land and tells him that if he chooses to go left, he will go right. If he chooses to go right, he will go left.

Before them lay two different lands. There was the plain of Jordan which was well watered, cultivated, and had developed cities. On the other side was Canaan which was uncultivated and undeveloped. Lot chooses the plain of the Jordan. Who wouldn't? That is the logical choice and the one we would all most likely make ourselves. As you read the rest of the story you discover that things did not turn out well for Lot.

As we try to walk in obedience to God's voice for the direction of our lives we will find ourselves having to make a choice in which direction we will go. I wish I could say that God always maps life out for us but I would be lying if I did. He rarely does. Let me share with you some basic principles the story of Abraham and Lot can teach us about navigating the pathway of God's direction.

#1 - Don't trust what you can see.

Verse ten says that Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the Lord. What looked good to Lot ended up being the wrong choice. I have found that what seems logical and looks right is usually the opposite to the way God sees it. Lot's first mistake was choosing what looked good to him. This is the key to walking by faith and not by sight. When choosing, close your eyes so that you don't get distracted by the bright lights and green valleys in front of you.

#2 - Don't choose what you want. Choose what God wants.

Verse eleven says that Lot chose for himself. Big mistake! One of the biggest mistakes we can make is choosing what we want without considering what God wants. Abraham was willing to choose what God had for him regardless of his own desires. When we read Psalm 37:4 it says that when we delight in the Lord, he will give us the desires of our heart. We translate that as God will give us what we desire. Though he does, that is not what that verse means. I believe it means that as God becomes the delight of our lives, he will change what our heart desires to match the desires he has for us. Lot delighted in his own desires while Abraham delighted himself in the desires God had for him.

#3 - Build altars, not houses.

We read that Lot lived in the cities and pitched his tent near Sodom while Abraham lived in the land of Canaan and built an altar and pitched his tent near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron. Lot was fascinated by what men could build--buildings and cities. Abraham was fascinated by what God could build. Mamre was known for a massive ancient terebinth tree and was located on a high place overlooking the valley. An altar represents the place where God's presence resides, away from the crowds and set apart from the ways of man. The terebinth tree represents the everlasting strength and unfailing faithfulness of God. Abraham chose to live where God dwelt. Lot chose to live where men dwelt and it cost him his wife and eventually his future.

As you strive to walk in the will of God for your life and seek to be obedient to his voice, take great care to follow the example of Abraham and avoid the costly mistakes made by Lot. Don't rely on what you see but what God sees. Avoid the temptation to choose what you want and always strive for what God wants. And finally, determine to stay close to where God is which is usually away from the crowds and the bright lights. Abraham's choice was the harder of the two; it required a lot more work and effort; it meant he had to give up a lot of things; but it paid off in the end. Lot took the easy way; the paved roads and pre-built future and it ended up costing him everything in the long run.
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