Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Blessings that Were Not

It has been my routine for years to start in Genesis, work my way through the Bible, then go back to the start. When I arrived at Dr. Luke's book, I camped out for so long that all the other books seemed to fade. I'm still in Luke, but I've recently decided to return to the straight-through work, too.

Today, I came to the story in Genesis 12 about Abram's journey. You know this story, but for a quick review Abram and his wife Sarai were living in Haram. Abram was a young seventy-five years old, and up for adventure. God told him to go on a journey to a new place.

I'm doubtful I'd have gone on this journey, but Abram was made of better stuff than me. He loaded up everything he owned and all his servants and livestock and headed out.

"Where are we going?" Sarai probably asked.

"I don't know, but God will tell us when we get there," her husband likely reassured her.

This seems a wild way to make a move, but Abram and Sarai went. The only assurance they had was the word of God that there was, indeed, a destination at the end of the journey.

Off they went. The journey was smooth at the start. They had lovely mountaintop worship time. Plenty of food and water. On the way to the Negev, they encountered serious trouble.

Abram and Sarai (and all their servants) encountered a famine. Famine is not the same as a crop failure. Famine is the severe scarcity of food that comes after widespread crop failure. If it had just been Abram, perhaps he would have tried to scrounge enough to get by. Abram, however, was responsible for feeding more mouths than his own. 

Abram did what most of us would do. He did a little research, found that food was available in Egypt, and headed to Egypt for a little sojourn. It probably seemed like a perfectly sensible approach. He could resume his journey when the famine was over.

After he arrived in Egypt, he prospered. We might see the increase in livestock and prosperity and say, "Look how God has blessed Abram in Egypt. It was a good thing he's done." 

We would be wrong. It was not God's blessing at all.

God didn't tell Abram to stop in Egypt. God told him to keep moving.

Abram appeared to prosper but Sarai was placed in grave danger and the house of Pharaoh encountered severe plagues because of Abram's decision. 

When Jesus said that a man's life does not consist of the abundance of his possessions, this is one of the situations to which he was referring. Disobedience to God can be accompanied by wealth, but wealth and the blessing of God are not always synonymous. 

It is far better to encounter a severe famine than disobey God to avoid the physical famine and end up with famine of the soul. Hard times are just that. Hard. When they are a part of the journey of obedience, however, God is there. His promises hold true. He will provide. 

When our journey of obedience leads us to a time of hardship, it is critical that we persevere, for God will lead us through it. He will bless us in it, but it may not look like blessing to the rest of the world.

Let us hold on to the promises God has given. Let us take our eyes off the world's accumulation of stuff and recognize that the blessings of God are sometimes intangible, but no less real than a pile of silver and gold.

The Apostle Peter understood this truth. He encountered a lame man and said powerful words. "I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene - walk!" And the lame man walked. (Acts 3:6 nasb)

When we have Jesus, we have more than enough. 

In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links: The Grateful Heart: Predawn StillnessThe Grateful Heart: Orchestration of GodThe Grateful Heart: Avoiding DistractionMaggie: Eye ProtectionMaggie: Wanting Eye Drops, and Grateful Heart: Superheroes and Missions Conference.

The most read posts of the past week: The Grateful Heart: Orchestration of God
#blessings #JesusChrist #famine #journeyofobedience