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Continuing our “Origins: The Promise” series, we made our way through Genesis 13 and 14 as Pastor Doug shared a word about choices. In this message, we discovered six ways that our choices eventually become our destiny.
Watch the video below to see a few highlights from the teaching and share it with your friends via social media. To watch the message in its entirety, click here.
Worship Is a Choice (Genesis 13:1–4): Simple choices determine your destiny. Have you ever made a bad choice that snowballed into a series of poor decisions? In Genesis 12, we see Abram make a series of poor decisions—God sent them to Canaan, but as soon as famine hit, they left and went to Egypt, a decision that blew up in their faces. But in Genesis 13, we see Abram finally get out of the snowball of bad decisions he and Sarai had made after having received God’s call. Theologian Alexander MacLaren points out, “If God had put him there, should he not have trusted God to keep him alive in famine? The narrative seems to imply that his going to Egypt was a failure of faith.”
And notice that, while in Egypt, Abram built no altars. How could he? Do you often find yourself building altars of praise when you’re walking in disobedience and sin? No! In fact, we often avoid them in these situations.
But once Abram repented of his disobedience and left Egypt, he ended up right where he had started! And they pitched their tents “where they had camped before . . . the same place where Abram had built the altar.” What an amazing picture for us to absorb and embrace. When we falter, when we make poor decisions and stray from God’s call and path, whether because of impatience or lack of faith or fear, the best way to come back is to take the path where we left off. In humility and repentance, we can return to a place of obedience and move forward in the calling and power of God.
And so, as he returned, it says, “Abram called on the name of the Lord.” May we be a people who do the same! Whether in famine or feast, in triumph or tragedy, on the mountaintop or in the valley, let us purpose to call on the name of the Lord. It will change the direction of our decision-making as we filter our lives through our faith.
Living with an Open Hand Is a Choice (Genesis 13:5–9): We must hold lightly to the things of this world. The difference in this passage between how Abram made choices and how Lot made choices is so important for us to understand and learn from.
Abram chose people over land. As the elder, Abram had the right to choose which way he would go. But instead, he allowed Lot to make the choice. Abram was open-handed. He had faith in the Lord and knew that He was in control. He didn’t make his decision based on selfish ambition or on what looked like it would benefit him most.
F.B. Meyer once wrote, “The man who is sure of God can afford to hold lightly on the things of this world.” This is how Abram lived.
Prioritizing People Over Things Is a Choice (Genesis 13:10–13): Abram prioritized his relationship with his nephew over the things of the world, but Lot chose FOR himself.
His decision was made solely on what he thought would most benefit him. He put himself first and ended up paying dearly for it. He didn’t call on the name of the Lord and seek the counsel and wisdom of God in his decision making. He let his eyes do the choosing. He allowed the things of the world to sway him. He was moved by the lust of the eyes.
First, he made his choice . . . then his choice made him. It shaped his destiny. He pitched his tent near Sodom and Gomorrah, and he kept getting closer and closer. He was done in by the lure of worldly things, and it defined the rest of his life. He chose to play with fire, and he got burned. We would do well to remember that the influence of the world is stronger than we are. This is why we’re exhorted to be in the world but not of the world. In 2 Peter 2:8, we’re told that “righteous” Lot’s soul was tormented day and night by the evil he saw and heard. He made compromises and lost everything because of his choice to move closer to the world and further from the will of God.
Choosing God First Makes Everything Else Second (Genesis 13:14–18): If you put the right things in the right place, everything else will flow properly from that. This is why Jesus tells us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and everything else will be added to us (Matthew 6:33). When we seek Him first, everything else is put in its rightful place. Abram chose to put the Lord and His promises first above his present circumstances, above what his eyes beheld. He walked by faith, he worshiped in the waiting.
We often make impulsive choices because we don’t really believe God will come through. We struggle in the waiting season, and we try to take things into our own hands. We will see this happen a little later on in the lives of Abram and Sarai, and we see that this is always a mistake. We must remember that waiting time is not wasted time; it’s a season of seasoning, a time of testing, a place of preparation and purification. In that time, the Lord builds character as we grow deeper in intimacy with Him.
Our Choices Eventually Become Our Destiny (Genesis 14:1–16): Poor choices can lead to the loss of everything. Lot’s choices eventually led to captivity, to bondage . . . and the same thing can happen to us. And while our version may not look like physical captivity and slavery to a foreign king, bondage to worldly strongholds is just as devastating. It could be that our captor is money, alcohol, drugs, porn, or people-pleasing; it could be any number of things. Whatever it is, these strongholds can destroy our lives. Lot had his life ripped away into slavery because of his choices. I pray this doesn’t happen to us. I pray our choices lead us closer and closer to the promises of God and the will of God and not towards the things of this world, that which enslaves and destroys.
Upon hearing of his nephew’s fate, Abram drops everything and puts together a band of soldiers to rescue Lot and the rest of the people. He doesn’t sit and judge cynically or claim that Lot is getting what he deserves. He has gospel compassion on his lost, captive nephew and goes after Him. In the same way, Jesus came to set the captives free, we lost and bound sinners who rightfully deserve wrath and judgment, and He took our punishment for us. Like Abram did, Jesus went after the captives and rescued us from sin and death and brought us out of bondage and made a way for us to become children of God.
In the same way that Jesus went after the captives, in the same way that Abram went after Lot, may we be a people who go after the lost, the captives, the marginalized, the oppressed, and the hurting. May we risk everything so we may gain souls to the cause of Christ.
Generosity Is a Choice (Genesis 14:18–23): Abram made an offering before Melchizidek, the righteous priest king of Salem—a type of Christ. This king was a priest of the most high God. And so, Abram gives him an offering, a tithe. He offers bread and wine, 2,000 years before Jesus uses these two offerings as symbols of the new covenant.
You see, Abram saw generosity as an act of worship. And so, even though he was giving this tithe to Melchizidek, it was truly an offering unto the Lord. He knew that God was the possessor of heaven and earth, and with an open hand, he chose to give back to God from what God had given him.
Quote to Remember: First you make your choices, then your choices make you.—Pastor Doug Sauder
As you think about this weekend’s teaching, here are a few questions to reflect on and consider on your own, with your family, or in your group.
1. What does choosing to worship with your life look like? How are you walking in this?
2. What are some ways you can choose to live with an open hand?
3. What are some obstacles to open-handed living?
4. In what ways have you seen Matthew 6:33 (“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”) play out in your life or the lives of the people around you? What happens when we place our priorities out of order?
5. What is your philosophy on tithing?
6. What does a generous life look like to you? What are some steps you can take this week to walk in generosity?
Imagine a city filled with the hope of Jesus . . . Imagine schools, businesses, neighborhoods, families, entire communities walking with Jesus, loving one another, living generously, and radiating the truth of the gospel. Imagine South Florida full of people who are connected to God, one another, and to those in need! That’s what Vision 2023 is all about! It’s a city-changing, five-year vision to make 60,000 new, passionate, fully-devoted disciples by 2023. We believe as God’s people saturate the region with the gospel, generosity grows, stronger families are formed, the elderly are cared for, orphans, addicts, and widows find lasting hope, and true social changes happens. Do you want to see South Florida changed for Christ? Click here to get in the story today!
Join us this Wednesday as Bobby Bemis shares from Genesis 14. Find out who Jesus is as priest, king, and prophet!
This weekend, we’ll continue “Origins, Part Two: The Promise” with a study through Genesis 15 as Pastor Jerry Sander from our Boca campus shares a powerful word about the covenant made between God and Abraham.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.