Dwelling Together

 

Recently I read through the story of Abram and Lot parting ways in Genesis 13. Due to conflict between their herdsman over land, they decided to separate. This is one of the first places mentioned in Scripture where we see how damaging arguments among believers can be.

I find it interesting that it’s pointed out in Genesis 13:7 that the Canaanites and Perizzites were living among them at that time. Whether this is mentioned to emphasize the land being overpopulated or to show that there were outsiders watching them argue, I don’t know. We do know looking back a few verses that Abram had built an alter there and was known to call upon the name of the Lord. Quite possibly these Canaanites and Perizzites were watching men call upon the name of the Lord and then argue in the next breath.

It makes me sad that this is still happening today. We continue to see fighting inside the church. And the outsiders, like the Canaanites and Perizzites, they still see what’s happening. Believers are called to lift one another up, yet so often we are caught tearing one another down in meaningless arguments.

But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. -Galatians 5:15

When we lose sight of loving our neighbor, we tend to become very judgmental and cynical. If we don’t look for good in people then we are likely highlighting the bad. This is crippling for the body of believers as well as reaching non-believers. Unity among believers is so important.

Followers of Christ must exhibit love. Love is an action and also not an option for a believer, but rather a commandment.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. -John 13:35

That. That is how people should know us. That is how people should see us. That is how people should recognize us. They will know who we are by how well we are loving one another.

Russell Moore once said, “Do not engage in foolish controversies that have nothing to do with the mission of Christ.” Too often we see Christians harboring bitterness over disagreements that have nothing to do with the gospel. Sure it is okay to disagree with another believer, we may never see eye to eye in this world, but it must be done in love.

I LOVE this verse:

…that they may all be one just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
-John 17:21

Jesus prayed for us. He himself specifically prayed those words for us as believers. And much of His prayer focused on unity. Doesn’t that make you a little warm and fuzzy inside? He thought it so important for us to be one with each other and in Him and the Father that he asked for it in prayer. He loves us. He loves us so much. Knowing that should give us confidence as we work for Him and as we shower His love among others.

We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

Let’s love well.

He Is Mighty In Strength

 

I believe people are creatures of habit. Some more than others and myself more than most. This phrase is repeated several times in Exodus 13: “for by a strong hand the Lord brought you out from this place.” This had to be repeated over and over again to remind and encourage Israel to fear the Lord and not their adversaries.

It is a beautiful statement that also reminded them of His power. It was only by His strong hand that the people were brought out of Egypt. By the same strong hand, God made a way for me by sending Christ, so how much more should I be encouraged by His power and love?

In that same chapter in Exodus, God decided not to take the Israelites straight to their destination, but took them the long way around so they wouldn’t be scared by arising conflict. Perhaps God knew they were so close to Egypt, they would run back. Even though their circumstances in Egypt were terrible, maybe He knew that they too, were creatures of habit. They would rather return to the only thing they knew than press on and trust Him for better circumstances and a life of serving Him.

Just like the Israelites God doesn’t always lead me the shortest path. Thankfully He sees all the obstacles. He knows my heart better than I know my heart. He knows what will trip me up and where I will doubt Him and His strong hand. I too forget that whatever God calls me to face is better than simply remaining where I am.

Following God usually requires change. It usually requires work. It usually requires doing things that are not easy or fun. If that seems like a total bust, there is some good news. His strong hand will be there guiding us. Those are not just words on pages; but real promises, power, and strength that we can wholeheartedly believe in.

By the end of the Chapter 14, after seeing the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea, the Israelites finally start believing. Sadly, it takes me just as long to start believing God, and I have scripture showing me over and over examples of His steadfast love and faithfulness. His strong hand is exemplified over and over, yet I still question His guidance.

He is wise in heart and mighty in strength (Job 9:4). He exhibits mighty strength by saving the day while gently loving and guiding us. He raised the Lord and will also raise us up by His power (1 Corinthians 6:14). His power is beyond our comprehension.

His hand is strong. His love is good. Whatever you are being called to face; whatever change you are looking at, you can trust in His strength. His power and strength are bigger than what He has called you to.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine…and I love you.

-Isaiah 43:1, 4

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

-Ephesians 6:10

Actually, It Is Very Near To You

 

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us…” -Deuteronomy 29:29

No other time in my life have I been more convinced of that verse. I am taking baby steps and giant leaps both at once into a direction that seems to be off my radar most days. I am not completely confident of this direction. Some things I know, other things I Continue reading “Actually, It Is Very Near To You”