April 28, 2003

LifeWay Family Bible Series for May 11

Free choice can bring heavy consequences
___bluebull Genesis 13:1-2, 5-18
___By Tim Owens
___First Baptist Church, Bryan
___Genesis 13 provides a biblical example of how family members can work together to enjoy peace. In response to God's call, Abram left Ur of the Chaldeans. His nephew, Lot, accompanied him to Canaan, where there arose a potential conflict over some land. Abram peacefully resolved this potential conflict by demonstrating his relationship with God, and others took priority over acquiring possessions. Abram also exhibited a genuine trust in God and a willingness to be generous toward others.
___Genesis 13:5-9 reads: "Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. And quarreling arose between Abram's herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. ... So Abram said to Lot, 'Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Let's part company. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right; if you go to the right, I'll go to the left.'"
___This is a characteristic of believers who are living under the control of God's Spirit--they choose to live a life o
f peace with those around them. Had Abram been living with a proud, selfish attitude, he would have said: "Look, Lot, I am the one to whom God promised this land. After all, you are just along for the ride. I am the one who has a right to this land. Furthermore, I am older than you are. You have absolutely no right to this land." Instead, Abram responded with humility, generosity and godliness as he gave the first choice to Lot. He was expressing a total trust in God.
___Any home can become dominated by conflict when a husband says: "I am always going to stand on my rights, because I am the head of the household." Any home can be marked with strife and division when a wife says: "I am not going to budge one inch, because I have a right to feel the way I do."
___The home where God's Spirit is free to work is the one where family members are submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Genuine faith demonstrates itself in the Christ-like spirit of considering others more important than one's self.
___The attitude that says, "We are going to do everything my way or else," paralyzes the work of God's Spirit, both in a home and in a church. The attitude that says, "I am not going to grasp my own rights, but instead I will trust God," frees the Holy Spirit to work for one's ultimate good and the glory of God.
___Tragically, Lot chose to live by his selfish impulses. He chose to grasp that which had more physical and material appeal. He demonstrated a greedy spirit that said, "I am going to get the best land while I can get it." It seems Lot was motivated purely by the physical and material dimensions of life, while he ignored the vastly more important spiritual dimensions of life. The end result was spiritual emptiness.
___It is an interesting study to track the spiritual digression in Lot's life. Genesis 13:10 says: "Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the Lord ..." Genesis 13:12 says: "... Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom." Genesis 14:12 says: "They also carried off Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom." Genesis 19:1 says: "The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city ..." This was the equivalent of Lot serving on the city council.
___This is what one's choices of compromise do--they keep moving one toward a life of sin, and gradually they weaken one's sensitivity and responsiveness toward God.
___Family members need to help each other learn and remember this truth: Life's choices have a way of sticking. God has given people the freedom of choice, but he has not given people the freedom to choose their consequences. God certainly forgives, but he does not always remove the consequences of disobedience. Every choice is moving a person either closer to God or further away from him.
___Because of Abram's faith, God blessed him with the promise that all the land would someday be his and his offspring's, as well as the promise that his offspring would be so numerous no one would be able to count them (Genesis 13:14-17). Family members can encourage each other with the truth that when they choose God's will, God will ultimately bless them in ways that far exceed their expectations.
___Questions for discussion
___bluebull How do two men dividing grazing land for their herds apply to modern-day family differences?
___bluebull Did Abram allow Lot to take advantage of him? Who ultimately got the better of the deal?
___bluebull Do people ever seem to escape the consequences of their bad actions? How do you deal with this?
___bluebull How can one bad decision lead to another that would originally never been chosen?

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