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Read Genesis 13:1-15
Genesis 13:8-9 (NKJV) 8 So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.”
So here we are on the final week of an unprecedented year, the year of social unrest, covid-19, and a potential political coups, the year 2020. During normal times this is the Sunday that pastors look forward to a new year, some even giving them a title such as ‘The Year of this or that…’. But at this time last year I sensed that 2020 would be different and I hesitated to say only that it would be a year in which the church would need to keep our eyes on Jesus. That would end up being quite the understatement as the year started to unfold. Because even then the virus had already begun to spread throughout the world. We just didn’t know it at the time.
Time will not permit me to list all of the things that happened this year, you have lived it, and we all are still dealing with the lingering effects of 2020. So instead of a recap of 2020, or the naming the new year, allow me to give you a simple word that the Lord has placed in my spirit. I will use the text, and the context of Genesis chapter 13 to help us to appreciate what I believe the Lord is saying to all of us as we look forward to 2021.
What is hope? The greek word that is used in scripture many times is ‘el-pece’. It means to look forward with anticipation and pleasure. Of course it is similar in that regard to faith. What Abraham did over and over in his life was to make the choice of facing an unknown future with the anticipation that God would always honor his promises. This is what we have to do as well as we look forward. Let’s Look at the promise.
Genesis 12:1-4 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. 4 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
This blessing, God’s pronouncement of Abram’s purpose and the assets that would come along with it, is one of our favorite things to preach and think about since we are also Abraham’s children by faith in Christ Jesus. But from a historical perspective it is also a very telling portrayal of how even people who are blessed can become sidetracked, and may need to make some adjustments along the way. Remember that God told Abraham to leave his country, (which he did), and his family, (which he partially did), all in the same breath of one of the greatest blessings in the bible.
In Genesis Chapter 13 we see that history shows us what can happen when it take us too long to become fully persuaded to comply with the things that God tells us to do. Abraham was already wealthy so God was not telling him to go get his stuff. The bible is also very specific in telling us who was with Abram. This of course would include his wife, but he also took his nephew Lot along for the journey. Since Abram was married I think it would be reasonable for God to allow him to bring his wife along for the journey and the blessings he would enjoy. I am not so sure that bringing lot was such a good idea though since the next thing we hear about Lot is that his herdsmen could not get along with Abram’s people.
Their disagreements prompted the parting of ways we find in Gen. 13:8. While Abram returned to Bethel, and to his beginnings with God, Lot was busy trying to find his own place in the world.
Just a quick word in the word for someone today. Be careful who you choose to come with you on your journey to destiny. There are people who will hang on your coat tails only to use you and your blessing and anointing to further their own personal and hidden agendas. Remember that even Jesus prayed all night before he chose his disciples. We should take His example chose our companions wisely.
Looking to 2021 and beyond it will be necessary to go back to your God given mandate, and reevaluate the people around you who are only with you for the good that they can get from you. It might be necessary from time to time to simply let some people go especially when it becomes clear that they are standing in the way of the next level word God has for you.
In Gen. 13: 8-9 it is Abraham who suggests that Lot and his herdsmen go in a separate direction because of the discord within the camp. This was a tough but necessary decision, but I want you to see the level of faith and hope that Abraham had even in this. He believed in God’s word, the blessing, and the anointing that was on his life so much that he let Lot make the first choice land to dwell in. By doing this Abraham was saying in faith and hope, ‘I will go in the opposite direction of the one that you choose. Whatever happens, I know that God will be with me’. Lot choose the plains of Jordan for one reason, the land looked fertile, and irrigated throughout. Lot was oblivious to God’s promises, so he could only rely on what looked good at the time. He looked for greener grass but completely ignored the Creator of the grass.
There is a powerful principle at work here. It is the epitome of hypocrisy to claim that you are a person of faith while making all of your decisions based on what you can see with your natural eyes. Where Lot saw green pastures, Abraham rested on God promises. Lot thought he was making the right choices but because he didn’t have the promise nor the blessing of the Lord he could only rely on what his natural eyes saw at the moment.
What I hear the Lord saying to us today is that we are all going to have to go back to our core principles, and to the promises of God and His word as we face the year ahead. You can never become a prisoner of what you see in front of you. Don’t be Lot. Be Abraham!
Our God is the God that promised to create rivers in the desert. He is the God of the ‘New Thing’. He can be depended on to feed us where ever we may be, be it green pastures or in the valleys of desperation. He wants us to look at the future with faith and hope rather than the fear of lack.
Another mistake Lot made in his decisions was that he seemed to be oblivious about the things he could not see. Although the land looked to be fertile, it was also a hotbed of demonic activity. The bible says that the men of of the city that Lot pitched his tent toward were known to be extremely wicked. History would prove that God would judge the region very harshly for their wickedness. What looks good today might be on God’s hit list tomorrow so ask God to give you the wisdom and spiritual discernment to see past what you see with your eyes.
This is why we need to pray and seek direction from the Lord before we make decisions. It is only through the eyes of the Spirit of God that we may be able to see beneath something that looks good on the outside but is deadly inside.
Make 2021 a Year of Prayer and Meditation. Don’t just seek better stuff. Seek the Lord while He may be found, and call upon Him while He is near. The old proverb says ‘Everything that glitters is not gold’. Our God is the God who made the gold. Through hope and faith the Lord is going to show you diamonds in their rough state that others are going to miss while looking for greener grass. He will also show you the demon behind the ‘next big thing’ so that you like Abraham can take a pass on something that looks good right now but will ultimately destroy your covenant relationship with God.
It was only after Lot had left Abraham that God appeared to him again with a renewal of the promises. It was after this painful separation that God essentially told Abraham that he would posses not only the land that Lot didn’t choose, but he would also all the land that he could ‘see’ in every direction. Lot chose the east, but because of faith and hope God gave Abraham the multi-dimensional multi-directional blessing of everything that he was able to believe God for.
So here is the what I believe the Lord is saying as we head into a new year. There are still many major obstacles to face, and many of our difficulties will not go away on January first. But remember how you made it this far, by keeping your eyes on Jesus, and trusting Him to see you though it all.
2 Corinthians 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:).
Remember that like Abraham our journey is not one of sight, but of faith. My prayer for you in 2021 is that God will give you options. But I also pray that God will give you the faith and hope that you need to know that even if you can’t see your way that God is still with you wherever you may go.
I pray that you will always choose faith and hope over fear and despair. I pray that you will believe beyond what seems to be available to you. Greener grass does not guarantee a better blessing. Stick with the promises of God and resist the temptation to trade your birthright, and blessing for something that is ‘hot’ right now.
1 Corinthians 13:13 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Abraham has been called the Father of Faith, but we can also call him the Father of Hope for trusting God with what was left to him. I will also choose to boldly go into the New Year with a hope that is based on what my God can do rather than the fear of what the future may hold.
In my conclusion let me leave you with a blessing from the Apostle Paul.
Romans 15:13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
Let’s choose to live in hope because out God is the God of hope, and He has filled us with His Spirit!
Bishop Horace Ransom Jr. is the Senior Pastor and Founder of New Covenant Church International in Detroit, Michigan. He is a Jurisdictional Bishop and serves on the Board of Presbytery for the Jabula International Network, North America. Bishop Ransom is an outstanding teacher of the Word of God with a passion for challenging believers to become the best that they can be. Faith, Purpose and the Kingdom of God are frequently the subject matter of his dissertation.