Today’s #LedToLead Moment: It’s In Your Hands!
Learn how to not allow setbacks to permanently damage your vision. Use faith and what you possess to move forward!
Based upon Exodus 14:15-16:
“The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.”
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So Abram left Egypt and went back to the Negev, he and his wife and everything he owned, and Lot still with him. 2. By now Abram was very rich, loaded with cattle and silver and gold.
He moved on from the Negev, camping along the way, to Bethel, the place he had first set up his tent between Bethel and Ai 4. and built his first altar. Abram prayed there to God.
Lot, who was traveling with Abram, was also rich in sheep and cattle and tents. 6. But the land couldn’t support both of them; they had too many possessions. They couldn’t both live there–– 7. quarrels broke out between Abram’s shepherds and Lot’s shepherds. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living on the land at the time.
Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have fighting between us, between your shepherds and my shepherds. After all, we’re family. 9. Look around. Isn’t there plenty of land out there? Let’s separate. If you go left, I’ll go right; if you go right, I’ll go left.”
Lot looked. He saw the whole plain of the Jordan spread out, well watered (this was before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah), like God ‘s garden, like Egypt, and stretching all the way to Zoar. 11. Lot took the whole plain of the Jordan. Lot set out to the east.
That’s how they came to part company, uncle and nephew. 12. Abram settled in Canaan; Lot settled in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent near Sodom.
The people of Sodom were evil––flagrant sinners against God.
After Lot separated from him, God said to Abram, “Open your eyes, look around. Look north, south, east, and west. 15. Everything you see, the whole land spread out before you, I will give to you and your children forever. 16. I’ll make your descendants like dust––counting your descendants will be as impossible as counting the dust of the Earth. 17. So––on your feet, get moving! Walk through the country, its length and breadth; I’m giving it all to you.”
Abram moved his tent. He went and settled by the Oaks of Mamre in Hebron. There he built an altar to God.
(Genesis 13:1-18 Message)
Leave everything, including your family that you’ve known and grown up with. This was God’s commandment to Abram. We know him as Abraham now but Abram had some lessons to learn and some steps of faith to take before God could change his name. Many times we hear “it’s the year of this” or the “year of that”. We hear much talk about seasons or “it’s your time”. However, I’ve come to find that it’s only when you take that step of faith that things truly begin to happen. Things won’t shift if you don’t shift. One step of faith that we all must take is leaving others that we have known for so long because they can not go with us into our future. We have to let the “Lot” figures in our life go. If we look at Genesis 13, Abram and his nephew, Lot, were experiencing some family issues. Their camps were having some “Reality TV” moments. It was time for them to separate. This moment of separation provides for us some key points on why some people just have to leave your life.
Before we begin, let’s note that Lot wasn’t a very bad man. In fact, he was noted as a righteous man. However, Lot did have some things that made him no longer able to walk with Abram. First, he was walking by Abraham’s faith and not his own. Have you ever met people that trail along just because you’re favored? In my opinion, there is nothing with people following you because God’s hand is on your life. However, at some point in time everyone needs to obtain their own faith. They can still follow but you can only ride on someone else’s faith and favor for so long. If my faith was really rubbing off on you, you would understand that you have to acquire the same mindset as me. However, Lot couldn’t acquire the same level of faith As Abram because God wasn’t talking to Lot at that time. This was a faith walk for Abram NOT Lot. Some may be able to travel with you but after a while they will notice that this is a personal walk between you and God. It’s personal. Let’s look at 4 points that we can learn from Abram and Lot.
- Don’t let separation destroy your peace
People drawn to social interaction by nature. We are talking creatures so we see why it’s hard for us to leave behind those we have drawn close to over time. This was Abram’s nephew. Maybe the separation is between your best friend, a cousin, a college friend, or a co-worker. Never let it destroy your walk between you and God. Abram didn’t start having a fit. When you walk by faith, you don’t start outlining problems but instead see solutions. We see Abram say to Lot that there was plenty of land. He didn’t care which side Lot took. He just wanted there to be peace. Abram was walking by faith and literally moving based on God’s voice. He couldn’t afford for disputes within the camps to disturb the environment. After all, how can you hear God’s voice in the midst of chaos. Something had to go. There was a need for separation because there needed to be peace.
- The natural eye walks in the natural before the spiritual
The saying “The grass is greener” must have been one of Lot’s mottos when it came to Genesis 13. Lot chose the land that looked like it was the best. The first “Lot-ism” is that people who don’t know faith can only mimic in the natural what really happened due to the push in the spirit realm. This is the mind shifter that separated Lot from Abram. Genesis 13:10 uses some very interesting language depending on what translation you are reading. If we base it upon the King James Version, it says that the land “LOOKED LIKE God’s Garden”. It LOOKED LIKE Eden– a blessed land. I’ve come to find out that it’s not about whether the grass is greener or not. You could have a dirt patch and it could still be blessed. It’s not about what is seen on the outside but it’s about who is working within you on your behalf.
When we look at this passage, we see Lot making his first “faith or fear” decision. I remember teaching on a lesson called, “Everything Good Ain’t God”. People who operate in fear make decisions based upon natural provisions instead of the ultimate provider. We can see why Lot drifted to what looked good. We could say that Lot’s best decision was following Abram. However, when it came time to separate Lot did not learn anything from Abram when it came to making a “faith” decision. However, we can’t blame him because we must remember that this was a faith walk for Abram. The promise was not for Lot. Lot never had to walk away from everything and just follow God. Abram was not traveling with Lot. Abram was traveling with God and Lot was following. Lot’s decision of land cost him more than just leaving Abram. If we look later in the scriptures, Lot ended up living in a land of wicked people guided by sin. Lot walked by the natural and paid a heavy price afterwards that even cost him his wife and great pain.
- Never let friction turn into a fire because it will consume both parties
Abram did not care what land Lot chose because Abram was more concerned about staying attentive to God’s voice than letting the chaos in the camp cause a distraction. Many times we put so much energy into keeping relationships rather than just moving on. However, friction will soon cause a fire if you do not address the issues at hand. Many times, we let things slide or cover up instead of handling it and moving on. So instead of walking by faith and moving on, you’re wasting time and effort putting out fires that you should have spoken on a long time ago. I don’t know about you but some things are not worth my energy or effort. Abram realized that this was truly a faith walk. He had left everything he knew to follow a voice that he knew was God. Faith is risky– it involves putting all your chips on the table and saying “all or nothing”. With that kind of faith in operation, the little things won’t be an issue because where God is taking you is greater cause. If we would be honest, the reason why many of us haven’t moved on is because we are still arguing with Lot instead of moving on to the land God is calling us to.
- The voice of God moves in faith and never in the presence of a lack of faith
The first thing that stood out to me in Genesis 13 was the fact that God spoke to Abram AFTER Lot left. It clearly says in verse 14, that AFTER Lot left, God spoke. Why? After the chaos has left, then God can speak to you. What God then tells Abram lets us know how when we base our walk on faith, our blessing lies in our obedience. Gold told him that if he looked in every direction, the land he saw would be his. Imagine that. In the King James Version, God tells Abram to get active and start walking around because He was giving it all to Abram.
When we walk by faith and not according to the eyes of Lot, we will see that separation is required for access into the next level. It’s not that they were bad. They just didn’t have what was required to go with you. As we look at our lives, we will see that many things are a personal journey. God is trying to increase our faith and distractions may come. Yet, those distractions can be flags that it’s time for things to part away from us. We need to hear God’s voice. We need to walk by faith. When we come to Christ, our first instinct is no longer guided by the natural. If we just walk by what God has called us to do, the blessing is there. So stop worrying about what isn’t there or moving forward without certain ones that have always been there. Sometimes you just have to let Lot go.
(Originally written for the A Team Talk Show)
I wish I could tell you that my passion for the church does not lead me at times to sadness. However, it does. For the past few months and even years, I’ve read countless articles surrounding why people are leaving the church. I wrote a brief article on why I sincerely loved the body of Christ. Yet, here I am writing another article about a similar topic. It seems that people crave dooming stories. To hear that “many” people are leaving the church must be a smirk of pride to those who sincerely hate certain ideas or strategies some churches have used to draw in the masses. However, we are overlooking the obvious.
The plethora of amazing churches with amazing pastors and thriving congregations.
The optimism and faith that comes from being rooted in Christ has been drowned out by voices who would rather spend their countless hours debating on the state of the “church”. We have bloggers dedicated to targeting pastors that they do not agree with. Some Christians rush to the sign of a failed church or a pastor scandal with hopes of setting the record straight about “holiness” and how the church “should be”.
In the midst of all of this confusion, we have missed the mission and vision of what it means to be “the church”. What I have found so interesting is that while “many” quote that Christians are leaving the church, the data suggests something much different. The scope has been focused on American Christians. Since when does the United States of America mark the end and the beginning of the Christian faith? Articles from all over the internet depict people leaving Christianity as some sort of huge Exodus. Yet, the facts remain that Christianity is the #1 faith in the entire world leading at 31.4% since 2010 with Muslims coming in at second with 23.2% according to Pew Research Center.
What does this have to do with anything?
My mother has always taught me that if you do not have faith in something then your voice is nothing but a distraction instead of a tool of action. What the church needs are active vessels who are willing to support and stand in the gap. We don’t need 40 more articles on the negative thoughts of the church. I guarantee you that you will be able to find them somewhere via Google typed up already. As the granddaughter and presently daughter of a pastor, I say what I say with a deep sense of passion. The faithless voices should leave the forefront of whatever they consider to be in their minds “progress”.
Like any other community, the church is in need of healing and more. However, we are ignoring the wonderful local bodies who are doing an excellent job of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not all Christians gossip and talk. Not all “church folk” are sleeping around, cursing at each other, and going behind each other’s backs. We have allowed negative experiences to dictate an entire global community. We have made our faith to seem as if there aren’t missionaries in our countries and abroad who are sacrificing what they have to spread the gospel. We seem as if there aren’t amazing pastors with superb volunteers and staff who aren’t giving their time to create long-lasting communities. We have focused on the minor and have ignored the major.
So what is my challenge to you? Just see if you can spend 24 hours finding the good within the body of Christ instead of always sharing the bad. Where is our faith in the faith? The fact is that even though Americans may be leaving the faith, the church as a global community is growing. I’ve never focused on who is leaving. I’ve instead focused on winning souls because that’s what I read in my bible. Yes, there are churches who abuse the gospel and twist it to conform to their opinions. However, my job is to spread the truth and walk in love. When one soul is saved, all of heaven rejoices. We don’t need more critics. We need more faith-filled leaders who are willing to push forward in the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are many who do not know who Jesus Christ is. We have focused for far too long on who is not doing “their job”. Some churches do not want to be “fixed” via the opinions listed in articles or platforms. There are some pastors who could care less about souls. We must pray for them but we can not forget or lose the mission at hand. We argue day and night about frivolous biblical theories and titles. Yet, what about the souls?
So for those who have a 200 page list of why people are leaving the church….I thank you for your list. However, just know that our focus should be shifted. Many of the reasons that I’ve seen listed are merely opinions. People fight about stage sets and worship music. However, I’ve seen on the flip side that those who come into the church don’t understand the essence of the church. I’ll never forget when someone came to my small local church and told me that we were too focused on “entertaining the flesh”. His reason why he said that? Because we were singing Israel & New Breed. It was “too upbeat’ and sounded “like the world”. The “pettiness” of his opinions reminds me now of many of the articles that I read. I really do say this in love.
We need to start providing solutions. We need to be active within our churches. We must have a commitment to souls and Jesus Christ above all else. There are far too many great churches for us to be focused on the horrible ones. Those who snide at my previous sentence should check their heart. If you don’t believe that good churches exist then there is problem right there. Lack of faith produces no results.
Romans 4: 17-25 (The Message)
We call Abraham “father” not because he got God’s attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. Isn’t that what we’ve always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, “I set you up as father of many peoples”? Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!”
Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, “It’s hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child.” Nor did he survey Sarah’s decades of infertility and give up. He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said. That’s why it is said, “Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right.” But it’s not just Abraham; it’s also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless. The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God.
If there was a topic that I have taught on the most in my few years of teaching it would be faith. There’s nothing like faith! Faith is what thing that pleases God according to Hebrews 11:6. Abraham’s life is a faith story. It’s something that has inspired so many teachings, posts, and books for centuries. I was reading this passage this morning and I had to write on it! I love The Message Version’s translation of Romans 4. My favorite line is the very first one. So many times we believe that our faith is based on our perfection. However, our faith is built on our ability to trust in God knowing that we are weak ourselves and that we are incapable of doing everything on our own. It goes on to say that when everything was “hopeless”, Abraham kept on believing. God made a promise to Abraham that He was going to do great and mighty things in his life. However, it required a certain amount of faith that went outside of “it may happen”. No! Abraham had so many challenges facing this promise.
For some of you, you may be saying: Genesis, look at my circumstances. I believe in God but this is something I can handle on my own. I’ll just call on God when it gets really bad.
Or maybe, it’s the fact that you think that you’re so far out of God’s will that He can’t come and fix everything on your behalf. No matter what you’re facing, you need to have faith. Now having faith isn’t just saying it. Faith is action! I wrote on Faith in Action a while back and it still holds as truth today. If I want what God promised, I must get my mind in position to see it as my truth and my reality even if it doesn’t look like it. That’s the hardest part for so many people. It doesn’t look like it. You hear a good word one day and you’re excited but then you wake up the next day and your problems start yelling at you. What do you do? Let’s look at what Abraham did.
It says that Abraham “plunged” into the promises of God. How do you plunge into the promises of God? I looked up plunge and this is the definition that best fits this scenario.
Plunge: jump or dive quickly and energetically.
So I have to jump/dive into it without any hesitation? How do I do that? Do you ignore what you’re facing? No. You simply do not allow those things to hinder your ability to trust in God. If I’m trusting in God what do I have to lose? Some of us are so nervous to lose in the natural that we forget that when we come to Christ, we are spirit FIRST. God has your back. Do you believe that? Do you REALLY believe that? Then JUMP!
What are you waiting on? You have problems knocking on your door. Things aren’t lining up right. Look at Abraham. God promised him children. He was old. His wife was barren. What did he have to lose by trusting in God? He was already in a state that was against what was being promised. What’s holding you back from jumping? Tell it goodbye! Do you believe that God will do what He said? We shout and praise God all day and night about so many scriptures but when the real battle comes, where is your faith? Stand strong! Faith in the middle of the storm is what makes us children of God. Who do you have faith in? Some of us have more faith in man being there for us than the almighty God. God is the only consistent thing that never changes.
So JUMP! God is waiting to take you somewhere great!
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43:18-19
Israel was in rebellion mode. However, God was letting them know that He wasn’t finished with them that. If they just came back to Him, He would be all that they needed. Not only would He restore them, He was going to take them places even greater. Imagine that! You would have thought that because of their mistakes, He would just restore them and that would be it. However, God offers them something magnificent. How does this apply to us?
For some of you, you have turned away from God. Maybe not completely but you have not completely surrendered to Him so that He is leading in every area of your life. Sometimes we think that because we aren’t sinning physically that we’re pleasing God. However, I’ve found at times that my heart and my inner desires were not aligned to God’s will. I had really turned away from God but it was within.
Maybe you are in line with God and you’re focused. However, you feel like life is the “same old, same old”. Maybe you feel like your dreams are on hold but you’re staying faithful to God. I want to talk to you really quickly about where God is taking you.
No matter where you are in life, I want you to know that God wants to you somewhere great. I don’t know what He has exactly planned for your life but I do know that it’s GREAT. How do I know this? Look at what God had to say to the Israelites in Isaiah 43. They had completely turned their backs and He had not just greatness but something FRESH in store for them! That means something that is filled with LIFE. Some of you have allowed what has happened in the past and how you have lived in the past control how you live now! However, God wants to do something NEW. However, you have to LET GO of those “former things”! It’s a new year! It’s time to think NEW! It’s time to think good thoughts! It’s time to think with no boundaries. You have to cut off what held you back because God is taking you somewhere great!
Sometimes where you are looks hopeless. It looks like God isn’t going to do something fresh but sometimes you need to walk on water just to know that it’s possible! You may not have a dollar in the bank. You may be about to get kicked out from where you live. Maybe you keep on getting denied from that school or the job won’t give you the raise that you need. Maybe it’s the doctor’s report that wont’ change. I don’t know what it may be but what I do know is that it’s time to look FORWARD and what God is going to do in your life! If we just look towards Him, He will show us GREAT things. Where there are dried up places, God is going to bring rain. However, you have to get in position. You have to get your mind in position. You have to get your life in position. You have to get your faith in position. God wants to do something amazing. Are you ready? I am!
“By an act of faith, Israel walked through the Red Sea on dry ground. The Egyptians tried it and drowned.” -Hebrews 11:29 MSG
You have to believe like crazy. The reason why some can’t ever see past their circumstance is because they have allowed fear to overtake them. Fear is a suffocating agent. It paralyzes you so that your destiny can never manifest. However, the Word of God tells us over and over again that faith overcomes fear. How do I let go of fear? I must make a choice. What will you allow yourself to be driven by today? The voices of man and what you see or the voice of God and what He promised?
In Hebrews 11:29, it says that by faith, the Israelites walked through the Red Sea. Now if they allowed fear and doubt to overtake them, we wouldn’t be reading about this in Hebrew. This was unconventional. A sea splitting in half? Dry ground? How does this make any sense? God will present you with ideas, plans, exits, and all kinds of things that won’t make sense. However, that’s why it’s called favor. Favor is linked with faith. When I position myself in faith, I unlock Dry Sea access where I can walk through the sea and not be harmed. Yet, when the naysayers and the haters try to do the same they drown because they don’t operate in the realm of faith-I DO.
While others may drown in it, you’re walking right THROUGH IT. It’s because you have faith. I’m sure the Israelites were astonished that a sea could even split in two but it sure wasn’t because of their own hands. That was a GOD thing! Nobody else can do what God is doing in your life but you must stay focused on faith. When fear comes, turn to your Word and root yourself in what God says. You may be crying and not understanding why things are happening how they are but you must remain in faith. Keep on walking through your Dry Sea. The other side is near. Keep on walking. Don’t stop praying. People may doubt you & they may drown but don’t you stop walking. You may have to leave some people behind. It may hurt but you got to get to the other side. You’re leaving Egypt. You’ve decided that you’re walking through the sea & guess what? You’re going to make it!