Lot Looked, Abram Saw

What circumstance in your life is God using to move you to enlarge your vision of God’s heart and purposes?

For Abram it was over-crowding (Genesis 13). Abram and Lot were rich men. Their large herds bumped up against one another. The Canaanites and the Perizzites grazed their herds in the same land.  Too many flocks in close proximity. Tensions grew. Tempers flared. Lot and Abram must separate. The Lord uses this circumstance to move Abram to the next stage of promise and vision.

 Abram’s encounters with God have already taken his eyes off what he sees in the flesh. He is open-handed. He gives Lot first choice. “If you take the left, then I will go to the right.”

Lot “chose for himself” the lush land. He looked with material eyes, chose what looked good to him, and ended up in Sodom.

God tells Abram, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, North and South, East and West, for all the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring can also be counted. Arise, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.”

Lot’s eyes lead him off to flourishing green and grief.

Abram’s eyes glimpse the invisible and far-off eternal blessing.

What am I looking at? looking for? What am I seeing? Am I living in the promises? Am I, like Abram, looking North and South, East and West? Am I turning 360 degrees in the promises of God, lifting up my eyes, looking with the eyes of faith? Am I stepping into the land of promise and walking through it?

What does it reveal about God that He makes promises? What does it reveal about His desire for me as His child and servant?

Because it is impossible to please Him without faith (Hebrews 11:6), He calls me to BELIEVE HIM and step into the invisible. His promises paint pictures in my mind of unseen realities. His promises reveal His heart and plans. When I walk the promised land by faith I’m drawn into a sweet and secret place.

He wants me to develop the “picture” in my mind so that it becomes my reality. This is where I live. “By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him in the same promise. For he was looking forward to a city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:9,10).

 So I ask myself, “Am I just looking or am I seeing?”

Advertisements

Seek His Face

prayer-photo

Thursday night I participated in a community-wide prayer meeting in the small western town where I live. About 300 people came to pray for our nation and community, came to make confession, to repent, to ask God to move with power in our land. A line of fifteen pastors stood and read together a confession of their pastoral failures. Then the rest of us confessed our failure to pray for our pastors, our luke-warmness, our varied and yet common sin.

We met at the fairgrounds in the same space where pies are judged and antique tractors are displayed in summer. We sat at tables, all mixed together, many churches represented. Some brought children, others came dragging oxygen canisters. We prayed. The murmur rose—(I sincerely hope) as a sweet incense to our God.

Two strong impressions marked me.

One, complacency-rupturing repentance comes only from God. I can’t even repent apart from His gracious work. Unless God gives fresh vision of His holiness and heart I remain sedately mired, content with good-enough. Deep cleansing confession and fervency to pursue Christ comes from the Spirit’s power.

Two, my husband prayed: Lord, have I been content to live in Your presence without fervently seeking Your face?

Would you take a moment now to pray for a spirit of repentance to sweep our land? And for God’s mighty work in His people that we might faithfully fulfill our calling?

A Message to my Readers

Dear Blog-reading friend,

Thank you for connecting with me in this way. I wish I could meet each of you. The exercise of posting every week since February 2015 has been good for me. The pressure to develop the thoughts God gives me thoroughly enough to share with you keeps me pondering, sifting, developing. I love the process. But I suspect you have noticed that lately I’ve missed deadlines for a Thursday post. So—I’m going to continue blogging but without deadline.

If you click “Follow Jean Fleming: Live the Mystery” my blog will be sent to your email automatically when I post.

 

Nothing is too Wonderful

blog-phone

The story is familiar and moving. A couple longs for a child. They try and try again. Year after year. They pray. This prayer percolates up, bubbling to their vocal chords. The wife wakes with the prayer already in her mouth. Her prayer catches the rhythm as she kneads bread or stirs the pot. The prayer lies heavy on her chest before she falls asleep. Leaden. Futile? An exercise so well established that she can’t give it up. But hope ebbs. Too long hope is deferred. Prayer unanswered.

This is how I imagine Sarah, now old, past child-bearing, worn out by the wait.

God has promised a son. In fact, a nation. The promises God made lit up the sky and lay in the sand at their feet. Promises too great. Promises so expansive and glittering. Promises so wonderful—and impossible.

Time had run out for them. She was past child-bearing and husband was very old.

The Lord appears again to Abraham, “I  will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son” (Genesis 18:10).

As I consider this couple, stricken with age, gazing at the stars beyond counting, hopes stirred, empty-wombed, hope deferred, I come upon the most poignant sentence. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (verse 14).

And we know the answer is “No!” Nothing is too hard.

But as I studied this verse, I discovered that “hard” can be translated “wonderful.” “Is anything too wonderful for God to do?”

God has made wonderful promises to us, too. All the promises have their “Yes” in Christ (II Corinthians 1:20). But like Sarah the wait wears us down. Do you, like me, have prayers unanswered? Do you wonder if God hears? HE DOES. So let’s encourage and remind one another: “Nothing is too hard, nothing too wonderful for God to accomplish.”

Invisible

for-blog

God calls us to live in the invisible and eternal while we make our way through this very visible and temporal world. This is the essence of faith, the call to faith. Christ-followers believe and follow a God we cannot see. We believe that He is Who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do.

The apostle Peter walked with the visible Jesus for three-plus years. He knew the color of His eyes, the shape of His hands, the timbre of His voice. After the resurrection and ascension, Peter walked with the invisible Jesus. Peter understands our situation:

“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (I Peter 1:8).

Inexpressible and glorious joy. Walking with an invisible God is not dry fare.

This morning I read about Nicodemus in John chapter three. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a man steeped in religion, a spiritual man. Nicodemus recognized God was with Jesus and initiated private conversation. But when Jesus spoke to him of invisible-spiritual realities, Nicodemus was uncomprehending.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a man is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus responded, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

Nicodemus was stuck in the material world.

We all are more comfortable handling the concrete. Faith calls us to live from the invisible world in this visible world. But soon our opportunity to honor God with faith is gone. God is blessed when we love, trust and obey Him without seeing Him. We, too, are blessed with “inexpressible and glorious joy.”