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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bible Study Review: Grace for Every Trial


Grace for Every Trial by Betty Henderson is a study of the book of Job. It’s not at all what I expected, and pleasantly so. I’ve heard studies and preaching on Job, and I’ve read it myself many times, but never have I seen all the wonderful teaching in it like I have through this study!

Of course, this study is all about suffering—its purpose, Job’s response, etc. We expect that. But, as Ms. Henderson points out, All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable (from 2 Timothy 3:16). That means we can learn from the seemingly endless speeches by Job’s “miserable comforters,” from Job’s responses, and of course, from God’s teachings.

This study is rich! Ms. Henderson refers to many other Scriptures, especially the Psalms. She includes practical instructions about what to do for people who are suffering—as well as what we shouldn’t do. All of the study is biblical and practical. She includes many quotations from hymns as well as from commentaries. This is meaty and inspirational.

I especially enjoyed delving into the “miserable” speeches for the first time in my life. I had no idea they held so much. I guess I pretty much wrote them off as silly sayings from not-too-helpful friends. Ms. Henderson says, “There is profit for our souls as we wander through this upcoming wilderness of words. This old book of Job is a gold mine . . . .” And it is! I came away with a new appreciation for both Job and Eliphaz. I learned so much about human nature and even how God describes Himself.

This is one of the best Bible studies I have ever done. I am so thankful I did this!

(Available from bjupress.com and on Amazon. It is a "Journey Book" under the heading "Women's Bible Studies.")

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Woman of a Certain Age


Over fifty.

I used to think that was really old. Over half a century!

Now, that phrase describes me. I’ve noticed a shift in how people treat me.

For instance, when I was young, the police would stop me and search my car. This happened often. It got to be something we pretty much expected. Now, when police see one or two gray-haired people in the car, they wave us on. We’ve still been pulled over from time to time, but I don’t think anyone has looked in the trunk since I was forty-five.

When I was younger, sometimes, strange men would try to get friendly. No more! I mean, who wants to flirt with a grandma? I think it’s rather funny.

Women treat me differently, too. Of course, a lot of my friends are getting up to these heights as well. Instead of, “Let’s take a walk,” I get, “Do you feel like walking today?”

I notice I treat myself differently as well. I use an anti-wrinkle cream daily, hoping for a miracle. I work for a while on my feet and then sit for a while, alternating, so I can accomplish what needs to be done.

I love how the French talk about women who are older. Instead of using the very blunt term “old,” they say une femme d’un certain age, a woman of a certain age. (You can bet she’s over forty, but she’ll never tell how far . . . and neither will I!)

Age is a strange thing, especially for women. Oh yes, there are a few ladies that are athletic, strong, and terrific at seventy. The old clichĂ©s are being upped and upped and upped. I’ve even heard “seventy is the new sixty.” (I doubt it, but hey . . . . )

I’ve always admired a woman who grows old gracefully. At forty, she’s not wearing dresses above her knees and trying to look like a teenager. She knows who she is, and she carries it off with class. At fifty, the same lady looks wonderful, but she’s not trying to be something she isn’t. By my age, she may have a grandchild or two, but she has no hang-ups about gray hair or being a grandmother. She is what she is. She’s not going sleeveless any more. (She discretely covers what gravity has rearranged for her.) She’s okay with slowing down and with her empty nest. (After all, it gives her extra face-time with her husband.) She doesn’t balk at a wrinkle or arthritis or minor memory issues. She understands they’re all part of living long enough to have more experience behind than ahead.

A Christian lady of a certain age is a woman who is blessed. The Bible always indicates that God is the Giver of life. In several different contexts, long life is a reward for those who do right. (Exodus 20:12; Psalm 91:16; Proverbs 3:1-2) God even loves white hair! (Proverbs 16:31)

Being older changes one’s perspective. For me, I was closing in on fifty when it became real that my days on earth are limited and I’d best get going on my legacy.

Here are some ideas for “legacies” that we women of a certain age might consider:
  • Scrapbook all the kids’ growing up—digitally or with real pages. Help them keep their own childhood memories. Show them visually why you’re glad to be their mother.
  • Mentor younger women (Titus 2:3-5).
  • Write your memoir. Tell how you came to faith in Jesus, all about your family (including genealogy), the good times, the bad times, and how God helped you overcome. Be open and real. Express yourself the way you talk.
  • Volunteer. You can make a real difference in lives. Suggestions: your church, pregnancy centers, homes for retired people, fund-raising for Christian causes, schools, missionary support. (I’m sure you’ve already thought of something else!)
  • Collect what you want your kids to see (drawings, poems, keepsakes, pictures, etc.) in a place where they can easily access them. File, box, label—whatever it takes to organize the important things. That way, when the kids come to grandma’s house, you can find what you want to show and tell about. You might also start giving your children the special things you want them to have.
  • Write that book you were always going to write.
  • Get even more serious about Bible study. You have more time now, and you can really dig for treasure. Get to know God in a more intimate way. (Job 28:12-28)
  • Teach. (You don’t have all that life experience for nothing!)
  • Be a wonderful grandmother. Invest time and energy into your children’s children. If you live close to them, read stories, bake cookies, and hug. If you live far away, give meaningful, age-appropriate gifts, and when you can be with them, be lovable, joyful, and take lots of pictures! 

It’s also good to be prepared for death.

1. The most important preparation is spiritual
  • Do you know Jesus as your personal Savior? The Bible puts it simply. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life (1 John 5:12). Do you have the Son?

2. The second aspect is practical.
  • Let your family know your thoughts about life support and other medical-ethical issues. Help them understand your preferences. (You can make a “living will” free of charge.)
  • Bring your will up to date. Also, if you want Susie to get your prized turkey platter and Johnny to get his dad’s jigsaw, write those things down. It will give you peace of mind and will keep your children from having to make those decisions once you’re gone.
  • Plan funeral and burial arrangements. When the time comes, it will take a weight off for grieving relatives. (You can further help them by writing down your favorite hymns, Bible verses, poems, etc. and what you would like to see in your bio.)
  • Make sure your executor and your children know where to find important papers and information, both in your house and on your computer.
  • Declutter your house and garage. Get rid of the things you don’t need. Give useful items to charity, recycle the trash, and simplify your living space. Pack up knick-knacks in boxes, if you can’t bring yourself to get rid of them. File papers. Organize. (You may live another forty years after you’re done, and your house will be more pleasant and easier to clean! Enjoy!) 

Live your days to the fullest.

Glorify God in everything you say and do.

I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart:
and I will glorify thy name for evermore.
(Psalm 86:12)

Monday, May 27, 2013

I'm the Bill Gates of . . .


On social media, I saw a funny drawing of a lady doing housework. The title read, “I’m the Bill Gates of dishes!” I thought the statement was so absurd that I left a comment.

To me, being the Bill Gates of anything is like comparing apples to oranges.

For one thing, I don’t think many people in the whole world could even comprehend how rich Bill Gates is. His net wealth is estimated between $63 billion and $65 billion. I have a very hard time envisioning a million dollars. A billion is so far out there that I absolutely have no concept of it. Then, multiply a billion over sixty times????

Intellect and vision. Bill Gates was a boy genius, a nerdy tech brain with a knack for understanding the need of the moment. When others hadn’t even thought of having a personal computer, he was working on fun software. Microsoft made him billions, but he made Microsoft.

Philanthropist. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gives away more money in one year than we will see in a lifetime. Bill Gates has given $29 billion so far. Personally. The Foundation works mainly to help the world’s poor in health care (including HIV retroviral care, vaccines, malaria prevention, and much more), development in poverty-stricken populations, and in education. The only person in the world who has given more to charitable causes is Warren Buffet, who is considerably older than Gates. (He has given $31 billion, much of it through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.)

Bill Gates and I do have a few things in common:
  • We’re close to the same age. (He’s older.)
  • We have both been voracious readers from very young.
  • We value marriage and family.
  • We both understand our blessings. Bill Gates said to the Telegraph, “I’m certainly well taken care of in terms of food and clothes. Money has no utility to me beyond a certain point. Its utility is entirely in building an organization and getting the resources out to the poorest in the world.”
  • We feel strongly that people should obey the Golden Rule (Luke 6:31). Mr. Gates said, "... it’s about human dignity and equality. The golden rule that all lives have equal value and we should treat people as we would like to be treated." (Telegraph)

To my knowledge, Bill Gates has never professed to be a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. As far as I could tell from my research, he would be categorized as an agnostic. It’s not that he’s against religion, though he once said he had better things to do on Sunday mornings. 
I sincerely hope that, if he has yet not done so, he will find the Lord Jesus as his personal Savior. It is much more important to be rich toward God than to be rich on earth. (Luke 12:20-21) For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:36)

I sincerely applaud Bill and Melinda for their efforts to alleviate the suffering of millions of the world’s poorest. I am thankful that they are using their wealth to benefit others and not simply hoarding for themselves.* I am glad to see that money is not their focus.
I enjoy watching interviews with Bill Gates. He still has messy hair, a boyish look, and a casual manner. He seems approachable and kind.
He is an amazing, successful, and giving person. 
He’s so beyond almost all the rest of the world that . . .
I can’t imagine anyone honestly saying, “I’m the Bill Gates of anything.”
Apples and oranges.
*None of my statements should be understood as a blanket endorsement of the Gates Foundation.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Ten Most Powerful Biblical Women (continued)



Yesterday, I posted the Top Five. If you missed them, be sure to check them out. Here are my picks for 6-10:

6. Priscilla—This New Testament lady is a virtuous woman in every way. (I think it’s hilarious that her husband’s name is Aquila. I mean really, Priscilla and Aquila!! It’s just too good.) Laughing aside, she’s in my top ten because she’s the only woman in the Bible who helped to disciple one of the early preachers of the gospel. The more I learn about her, the more I like her. She is always mentioned alongside her husband. They were a team in many ways: their marriage, working together making tents, discipling Apollos, traveling with Paul and helping him in the ministry, and opening their home as a meeting place for the church. (Acts 18; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19)

7. Deborah—This Old Testament lady was the only woman who was appointed a judge in Israel. We’re not sure if she was a widow at the time she was a judge, but we know her husband was Lapidoth. (Judges 4-5) She’s one of the few ladies in the Bible who’s called a prophetess—someone who proclaims God’s Word. We find her under the palm tree of Deborah (4:5) helping people with their problems. She calls for Barak and asks him if he got the directions from God to go to battle with the army of Sisera. His response shows a lack of faith. He says, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. Then Deborah answers him, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh (4:8-9). Deborah actually rode into battle with General Barak. She encouraged him with these words: Up; for this is the day in which the LORD hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the LORD gone out before thee? (4:14) The battle raged, and Sisera ran away on foot. (Brave man!) Later, Sisera is killed by Jael, and Deborah gives all the credit to the Lord. She sings a duet with Barak that says, Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves. Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel (5:2-3). I admire Deborah for honoring God always, for being wise and judging Israel, for proclaiming God’s Word, and for praising God for another woman’s success. She’s definitely a top ten!

8. Jael—Heber’s wife Jael is one of the gutsiest women of the Bible. I have no idea how she had the wisdom, nerve, and acting ability to pull off one of the most ingenious assassinations in Scripture. She sees Sisera running near her tent and goes out to meet him. Picture this: she is his enemy, yet she gains his confidence, and he trusts her enough to go to her tent to hunker down. She gives him milk. (It naturally contains tryptophan, which produces restfulness, relaxation, and sleep.) Jael tucks him into bed, and stands guard in the doorway—until he’s asleep. Then, she grabs a tent peg in one hand and a hammer in the other and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died. And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will shew thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples (Judges 4:21-22). God delivered His enemy into the hand of a woman, just as Deborah had prophesied. Jael, the brave and lethal actress, did the dirty work. For this reason, I believe she’s one of the Bible’s “most powerful women.”

9. DorcasNow there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did (Acts 9:36). This lady was a devoted follower of Christ and someone who helped others. Dorcas got sick and died. They washed her body and laid it out in an upper room. Two men were sent to go and get Peter. Peter went right away. When he arrived in the chamber, he found this scene: all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them (9:39). Peter shooed all the people out of the room, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord (9:40-42). Dorcas makes my list because of her faith, her ministry to needy women, and because God saw fit to raise her from the dead as evidence of His resurrection power. One can only imagine the ministry she had after she came back from the other side. Such stories! Such a wonderful testimony!

10. The queen of Sheba—The only political figure in my top ten, this lady makes my list for several reasons. I admire her wit, her curiosity, her willingness to examine the facts, and her honest assessment of what she saw. Her story is in 1 Kings 10:1-13 and 2 Chronicles 9:1-12. The Bible says the queen went to see Solomon because she had heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions (1 Kings 10:1). The Bible tells us she arrived at Jerusalem with a very great company, and camels that bare spices, and gold in abundance, and precious stones (2 Chronicles 9:1). (Had she lived today, she’d have had a hard time getting through customs!) She traveled quite some way to get to Jerusalem, from Saba, now Yemen. And when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. And Solomon told her all her questions: and there was nothing hid from Solomon which he told her not. And when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, and the house that he had built, And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel; his cupbearers also, and their apparel; and his ascent by which he went up into the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her. She was left speechless! But, then, she says, It was a true report which I heard in mine own land of thine acts, and of thy wisdom: Howbeit I believed not their words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the one half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me: for thou exceedest the fame that I heard. Happy are thy men, and happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee to set thee on his throne, to be king for the LORD thy God: because thy God loved Israel, to establish them for ever, therefore made he thee king over them, to do judgment and justice (2 Corinthians 9:1b-8). The queen with all the questions got her questions answered—and then some. What I love here is that she gives the glory to God. She praises Solomon, yes, but she gives the glory to God. Did she become a true believer on her trip to Jerusalem? We don’t know. We do know that she went back to her country with a renewed respect for our God and His praise on her lips.

Who would you include in your “Top Ten Most Powerful Biblical Women”? Please share why, and what ranking you would give her/them. I’d love to hear your answers!

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Top Ten Most Powerful Women


Forbes Magazine recently released its list of the 100 World’s Most Powerful Women. Included were CEOs, political figures, and successful women in different fields. It’s always interesting to see who’s at the top. (This year, the top ten are mostly politicians.)

I would like to propose my list.* Let’s call it:

The Top Ten Most Powerful Biblical Women.

1. The Virtuous Woman—Described in Proverbs 31:10-31, this lady is industrious, a homemaker, seamstress, weaver, cook, businesswoman, farmer, and she helps the poor. She’s a wife, mother, and boss. Sometimes we get so impressed by all she does that we don’t see what she is. The Virtuous Woman is a lady whose husband completely trusts her. She speaks with wisdom and kindness. Her husband, children, and all who know her praise her. She respects the Lord. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all (verse 29). If God says she excels them all, so do I. Number one: the Virtuous Woman.

2. Mary, the mother of Jesus—This very young lady was humble, willing, and strong. She understood the incarnation of Jesus more clearly than anyone else, ever. She met the angel Gabriel. She said “yes” to God’s using her to be the human mother of her own Savior. She knew she risked losing her fiancĂ© Joseph. She also knew that no one else would understand how she could possibly be pregnant with God’s Child. (What a story!) She certainly anticipated ridicule and shaming. But, she said yes anyhow and became the mother of the only perfect Child in the history of mankind. Twice, we’re told that Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19). Can you imagine what she knew and what she saw? She was with Jesus when He performed that first miracle in Cana, and she followed Him all of her life, even after His death and resurrection. The Bible says she was with the other believers at Pentecost. When pregnant Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth, she said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour (Luke 1:46-47). Mary understood that she needed a Savior. He hadn’t been born yet, but she was already praising Him. She deserves a very high spot on my list.

3. Sarah—Abraham’s wife wasn’t perfect, but God holds her up as a role model for all Christian women. In the New Testament book of Hebrews, God praises her in the “Hall of Faith” chapter: Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised (verse 11). Sarah laughed when she heard she was going to have a baby. (At 89 or 90 years old, who wouldn’t?) Then, she lied about laughing. On two occasions, she went along with her husband’s half-lie about being his sister. (She was his half sister.) Sarah got mad at Hagar and treated her badly. So, in some ways, Sarah was not what we would like to see in a Christian woman. But, when we get to the New Testament, we realize how great she was. She’s held up as the example for how women should yield to and respect their husbands. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement (1 Peter 3:5-6). Can you imagine following your husband from Ur to Haran to the Promised Land, rescuing Lot and his household, permanently camping for the rest of your life? And then, you give birth to a baby—at ninety years of age! (I hope she had help running after him in his toddler years.) Yep, Sarah’s number three.

4. Ruth—I have a hard time relating to this amazing woman. This is her story: she was a Moabite who married a Hebrew man. He, his brother, and his father died, probably in a close time frame. (How did they die? The Bible doesn’t tell us if they were sick or murdered or died in an accident.) Ruth had trusted her husband’s God. So, she left her family and her country behind and traveled with her mother-in-law Naomi back to Bethlehem, Naomi’s hometown. (I get the impression that Naomi was a cranky lady. She was a believer, but she lost her joy when her husband and sons died.) This is why I think Ruth is so amazing: she wanted to go with Naomi because of her devotion to God. Her mother-in-law’s personality wasn’t the draw. It was God. And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me (Ruth 1:16-17). God blessed Ruth, who dutifully obeyed Naomi and worked hard to provide them with food. God gave her a fine, loving husband and one son. God also made sure this lovely woman was included in the lineage of Jesus Christ—one of the non-Jewish people in Jesus’ background. What an honor!

5. Esther—This lady is a true heroine. Her obedience, bravery, and love for her people are exemplary. Her story is one of my personal favorites because of all the ironies in it. Esther was a beauty queen in the strictest of terms. She must have been stunning and very elegant. She understood that “less is more” when it comes to dressing beautifully, and she caught the king’s eye, if not his heart, and became queen. Her Jewish cousin Mordecai (who reared her after the death of her parents) advised her to keep her Jewishness a secret. Later, she was used by God to save her people in the bravest of ways—approaching her own husband without being summoned! If he refused her, she would be killed. Esther and her maidens prayed and fasted for three days, along with all the Jews, before she dared to go to the king. Mordecai told her, For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14) God answered their prayers, saved the Jews, and punished the perpetrator Haman. I love this whole story! Definitely, Esther belongs in my top five.

Stay tuned for more of my Top Ten in my next post. I hope you’re curious!


*These rankings are based on my own opinions, except for number one, which is God’s clearly stated judgment.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

God Totally Understands


One of the great comforts we find in Scripture is that God understands people. He understands us because He created us.
  • My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them (Psalm 139:15-16). 

It doesn’t stop there. He has a deep cognizance of our frailties, our penchant for sin, our temptations, how we’re put together.

It is wonderful to know this about God, because when we pray, we know that He completely understands who we are. He really, truly gets us.

What’s more, when God became man, when Jesus became flesh, he experienced human limitations.
  • But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:7-8).
  • But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man (John 2:24-25).
  • For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus totally, absolutely understood mankind. He could even (because He is God) read people’s thoughts.
  • And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? (Matthew 9:4)
  • But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth (Luke 6:8).

Some believe that Job is the earliest written book of the Bible. I find it fascinating that Job, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, understood that God is fully aware of what’s happening in our lives.
  • But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold (Job 23:10).
  • For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings (Job 34:21).

I love these verses about how God “pities” us. (The Hebrew word pitieth used here means “to love deeply, have mercy, be compassionate, have tender affection.”)
  • Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust (Psalm 103:13-14).

I can’t understand why an infinite God would care about us—filthy, failing human beings. But, our Bible teaches us that He does. He cares very much. Our Lord is perfectly aware of who we are. He knows our all about our life. He understands us body, soul and even our thoughts.

Does this impress you?

It does me.

God knows all about you, yet He loves you. He cares for you. He has mercy on you and tender affection for you. He sent His Son to this world to die for you, so that you might have eternal life. (John 3:16)

This is Scripture.

This is Truth.

May we embrace it today!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Lot: From Homeowner to Cave Man


The parallels and contrasts in Scripture are always fascinating. Take Abraham and Lot, for example.

Abraham left Ur at God’s call. From then on, he lived a nomadic life, carrying his tent and a whole tent village worth of people from place to place. He never had a house in the Promised Land.

Lot left with his uncle Abraham and lived in tents with him. When Lot separated and went to live in Sodom, he had a house. When he had to flee for his life from God’s judgment of Sodom, he and his daughters sheltered in a cave.

Abraham went from house to tent. Lot went from house to tent to house to cave.

Read what the Bible says about Abraham’s housing:
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. . . . But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city (Hebrews 11:8-10, 16).

Here on earth, Abraham lived in tents, but his focus was on eternal values—on heaven.

In contrast, Lot was looking for material gain. And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom (Genesis 13:10-12).

Lot’s decision was the start of his downfall. He moved closer and closer to Sodom, lived there (in a house), and God rescued him and part of his family immediately before its destruction. Later, he lived in a cave with his two daughters. Everything went bad for Lot. He lost his wealth, his home, his wife, some of his children, and then we lose track of him. We see him last in a cave in Zoar, living with his daughters and his sons born of drunken incest with his daughters. (Interesting: their children were Moab and Ammon—whose descendants gave Israel problems ever afterwards.)

The Bible gives us a different perspective from the world.
  • The world says, Go. Do. Get.
  • The Bible says there are things that are worth living and dying for. They’re not gotten . . . yet. 

Hebrews 11, the chapter about the heroes of the faith, says: These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country (11:13-14).

The Puritan writer, Thomas Watson (1600s) said, "A believer is in the world, but not of the world. We are here in a pilgrim condition, out of our own country. Therefore, we must not look for the respect and acclamations of the world. It is sufficient that we shall have honour in our own country. It is dangerous to be the world's favorite."

Some practical applications:
  • Am I more like Abraham or Lot?
  • Where are my values?
  • If I have made some bad choices in life, am I willing to change, turn around, and start over, pleasing God?
  • If my sights are firmly on heaven and on obeying God’s call, am I surprised when those around me don’t understand?
  • Do I have a “pilgrim complex”? Do I feel sad, discouraged, misfit, and lonely because I don’t live like others around me?
  • Do I live a victorious life, laying up treasures in heaven? 

Lot had the wrong values, a wrong lifestyle, and he blew it with his family. He ended up in a cave.

A study of Abraham will inspire us to follow God all our lives. Oh yes, he had his faults, but he always pressed on in the right direction. When he failed, he repented and went on. He didn’t live in defeat. He also didn’t expect those around him to understand. He obeyed God, and God honored his faith.

Let’s be like Abraham!
Abraham was generous, caring, obedient, and dedicated to God’s call.
By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country.