Learning from lives of others

Friday August 11, 2017 Written by Published in Church Talk

The Bible teaches that God has already planned your eternal destiny and the pathway that you must take in order to fulfill that destiny.

 

The New Testament Book of Ephesians 2.10 says, “God planned for us to do good things and to live as he has always wanted us to live. That’s why he sent Christ to make us what we are.” What this is saying is that, while God has prepared a pathway for us to walk on towards fulfilling our destiny, the choice to walk on, and remain on that pathway of good works and good living, remains with us.

Some people think things just happen, that you’re just bumping along. Such thinking will trap you in the quagmire of feeling like an accident of evolution. But when you know you have a divine destiny, you have the confidence that you are who God says you are.

Now moving towards your destiny is not a bed of roses. In fact, many Christians have this erroneous understanding that becoming a Christian makes life real easy. And then, they discover that you still have to make the decisions in your life, God will not do that for you, and you are still responsible for the consequences of those decisions – good or bad. God has done all that He can through Jesus Christ His Son, and provided us with a manual of instructions for life, called the Bible. You either read and study it, and live your life by it, or you can choose to ignore it – the choice is yours. And therein lies our struggle as Christians: what choice do I make? Do I follow what the Bible tells me to do, or do I just flow with what everyone else is doing?

A study of the life of an important biblical character, Abraham, can give you prior knowledge and understanding on how to do and how not to do in life. The foolish things he did show us what not to do, but the wise things he did should encourage us to follow his examples. That’s one of the great things about the Bible, God doesn’t just show us the good; He also shows us the bad.

Just in case, you’re thinking: what has a Jew, who lived and died several thousands of years ago, what has he got to do with someone who lives in the Cook Islands in 2017?

The NT Book of Galatians 3.7-9 says, “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the families of the earth will be blessed.’ So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.”

So let’s learn from the faith of Abraham, and the way he handled problems, to make sure we too will fulfil our destiny.

Breaking the parent trap

The Old Testament Book of Genesis 11 tells us that Abraham’s father, Terah, took Abraham and the rest of his family and left the land of Ur, a place known for its worship of the moon. But Terah did not reach his destination, the land of Canaan. He stopped in Haran, which means “a dry, parched, burned-out place”. If the name of the region had anything to do with Terah’s life, he burned out before he reached his destiny. He died in Haran.

How many Christians do you know, who seemed to be on their way to a great destiny, but then got stuck somewhere along the way? Some circumstance caused them to become angry, discouraged, or bitter, and before they knew it, they were burned out, dried up, and stuck in a parched life.

While on your way to the Promised Land of destiny, don’t get stuck in “Haran”. This was the example with which Abraham was raised. Many Christians cannot break free of the way their parents lived. They let the traditions and examples of their parents keep them from the Promised Land to which God has called them. Many think that they should stay close to their relatives at all costs. But Jesus disputed that kind of thinking. Jesus said: “He who loves father and mother more than me is not worthy of me. And he who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew.10.37).  And when his disciples came and told Him that his relatives were outside wanting to see Him, Luke 8.21 says, “But He (Jesus) answered and said to them, ‘My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.’”

When family traditions are based on the Word of God, they are good in God’s eyes. But when they are based on insecurities, control, fears, and sin, they must be left behind. And another aspect of this truth is that you must never let your family backgrounds limit your own future. Being born into a poor family speaks nothing about your financial future. If you are born into an abusive family that does not have to be a hallmark of your future relationships. Alcoholism, drug abuse, emotional abuse – all these things are often passed on in a tradition of negativity. The challenge is for you to rise to a higher level, and all that God has created you to be, regardless of your family history.

The fact is, the ways of our families and the ways you were raised, have nothing to do with the destiny that God has for your life.

Don’t carry extra luggage

When Abraham left Haran, God told him specifically to get away from his family, but Abraham decided to take along some excess baggage: his nephew Lot.

Bad decisions don’t always look bad from the start. Lot was not interested in pursuing God’s destiny. He was along for the ride. He had no relationship with God. He had a personal and selfish motivation for being with Abraham, and when you have people like that tagging along you can expect trouble along the way.

Genesis 13.6-7 says, “Now the land was not able to support them that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together. And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock.”

The land would have been able to support Abraham, but his disobedience to God’s command resulted in his current situation, strife. The fact is, when you follow God’s plan for your destiny, God will provide more than enough to support you. You are not responsible for every person who wants to ride along with you. Although we are to love our families and care for and honour our parents, we are not to sacrifice the will of God or our destiny for them.

The challenge to you is: Guard your relationships. They have much to do with your destiny.

Lies and compromises

(Abram said), “… Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live.

Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you.” Genesis 12.12-13.

During this part of his life, Abraham loses his integrity and his reputation, and almost loses his wife. His compromises and lies jeopardised his future. He surely lost his influence with Egypt in terms of his godly example. Obviously, Abraham felt justified in his life. We usually do. He thought he had good reasons for what he did when he lied. But the fact is, lies always open the door to the father of all lies, Satan. Whatever you hope to gain through a lie, you will lose. The world’s way never works. God’s way may seem difficult, but it is the only way. Abraham got himself into big trouble when Pharoah took Sarah into his palace. God had to bail Abraham out by intervening in the situation. He did so because Abraham’s heart and mind was set on following God and fulfilling his destiny, but the lesson is clear. Compromise and lies will never help fulfil your destiny – they may even cost you your destiny. To succeed in life, it is not deep wisdom that you need. It is the basics like honesty and integrity. Integrity is a rare commodity today, but you would do well as you reach for your destiny, to keep honesty and integrity close to your heart.

Be willing to fight for what is right

In this story, Lot and his family had been taken captive by the kings of Chedorloamer who had attacked and conquered Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham heard about this and decided to do something about it.

Genesis 14.14b says, “He armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit.” 

Abraham did not have to get involved. It wasn’t his fight. He could have ignored it totally, but his character would not let him. In this story we see Abraham’s concern for others and his willingness to sacrifice for them, when there would be no benefit to him personally. Sadly, coming to the aid of other human beings is not normal in our world. Do you realise that in western countries, people spend more on dog food annually than they would give to any charitable organisation? Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6.21.

We also see that Abraham had resources to use for the support of others. It is God’s will for you to have more than you need emotionally and materially, an abundance that will overflow to others.

Abraham had the resources, he had the wisdom and military savvy to rescue his nephew, but he also had guts and courage to do what had to be done. Destiny doesn’t just happen. You and I must have the courage, the wisdom to go all out for it. God will always provide what we need, but we must also be prepared to use what we have for Him. If we don’t do our part, why should we expect God to do His?

As you walk with God and stay on course, you will become a man and a woman of destiny.

Enjoy your weekend and take time to go to church.

Part two of this series will be published in Church Talk next Friday.

            Pastor Tevai Matapo,

            Assembly of God

 

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