TRUE PROSPERITY HAS GOD IN THE CENTER AND HEAVEN IN VIEW
During the Sunday service, Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh continued preaching about the power of the Gospel. Her main text was taken from the Books of Romans and Hebrews: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith” …. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore, from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore” (Romans 1:16, 17; Hebrews 11:8-12)
FAITH AND HOPE IN GOD’S PROMISES ARE ALWAYS FULFILLED
Abraham discovered the power of faith and hope in God’s promises; faith and hope in God never fail! PROMISE is a vow to do something good in the future! God’s Promises give us the right to hope until the manifestation comes! FAITH is defined as (present) belief, confidence, total trust in God. HOPE is defined as a joyful constant expectation of good in the future. The promises given by God in His Word will one day become manifest visibly. Hope is invisible. Faith sees the invisible hope and carries on, until it becomes visible. Hope fulfills faith. That is why hope is stronger than faith. Faith does not backslide! Faith is not a coward! Faith pleases God! Faith is the substance, the invisible bridge that carries the hope. When faith is weak, the hope may crash. The greater our faith, the greater our hope and the more we can dream. Faith is the foundation of hope. Faith is connected to the hearing of God’s Word. It is the underground bridge leading and supporting hope. True faith and hope in God will never put you to shame!
ABRAM’S FAITH IS GETTING STRONGER AND LOT’S FAITH IS GETTING WEAKER (Genesis 13)
Abram is getting stronger in his faith. His faith is now three-dimensional. He looks back at the Cross (repents of his backsliding in Egypt and raises an altar to worship God – Gen 13: 3,4). He looks at the glory ahead, at heaven, at the fulfilment of God’s promise, when his descendants will be like the sand, thru Jesus Christ (Heb 11:8-12). He looks at the present challenge, the division in the camp, and by faith, he becomes a peacemaker (Gen 13: 5-18). Abram and Lot are members of the same family. They have been walking together for a long time. They have been together in poverty and in riches. They have many things in common. But they are also quite different in their levels of faith and attitude to life. Abram has strong faith and Lot has weak faith. They have both left everything to follow God to the land of promise. Both are believers in Jehovah, in other words, both are born again. Abram heard the call of God and obeyed. Lot heard the call thru Abram, but he too was saved. God “delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)” (2 Peter 2:7, 8).
What are the main points of difference between these two believers? Abram is always taking the initiative. Lot is always following, never taking risks. After coming back from Egypt, Abram repents and raises an altar to God. But Lot did not repent from the love of the world. He becomes a double minded man. He ‘blends’ easily with believers and unbelievers. Abram was generous. Lot was greedy man; his men argued about the property. Lot chose Sodom that looked more prosperous. As a younger man, he was supposed to let Abram chose first. But he could not resist the temptation of choosing wealth. Lot was impatient and disrespectful. Abram was patient, wise, a man of peace, relaxed in the presence of God. Lot is restless, struggling to make money. He did not think about Abram’s feelings. He does not build altars to God. He is not interested in spiritual things like his uncle. He is not worried to leave Abram, his mentor. Like God, Abram is generous. God gave His only begotten Son. But Lot lives for material things. He lives for this world! These two men have different visions of life and of God’s blessings! They looked at life from opposite directions! Lot looks with natural eyes and Abram looks with the eyes of faith, trusting God to fulfill His promises. Abram is a pacemaker. He sees that they are brothers, and they should not fight. Abram is concerned about God’s reputation and glory. Abram appreciates the unity of the Spirit. Lot does not care about that unity. Unity is peace! Division is war. Lot is ready to separate from his family and friends for the sake of wealth. Lot is a materialistic believer. He sacrifices his testimony as a man of God, his relationships with other brethren, for the sake of wealth! Lot chose Sodom, a prosperous town but outside the Promised Land. In Sodom Lot absorbed the spirit of the world that affected him, his family and descendants. Seated at the gate of Sodom, he became a frustrated, powerless political leader. He offered his daughters to be raped to bring peace in Sodom. With all his wealth and social status, he lost everything. His wife died looking back at Sodom. His two daughters committed incest with him, in a cold lonely cave in the mountains. His descendants, The Moabites and the Ammonites, were cursed by God. Lot was a man of weak little faith! What a tragedy! Even today, the devil tempts the Christians to serve two masters. But it never ends well! Learn from Lot’s mistakes! But watch Abram! Immediately Lot left, God spoke and encouraged him! God said (I paraphrase): ‘Abram, you made the best choice. You have lost nothing! I am still with you and My promises will be fulfilled in you…’ From now on, Abram gets closer to God and his faith increases! Abram wanted a prosperity that has God at the center and heaven in view! Do not be like Lot! Be like Abram!
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH!
“If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Tim 6:3-12)
Lot’s sin was covetousness (which is idolatry). Abram looked at the things above (a city with foundations). But Lot looked around, at earthly things. Abram was a man of the Cross. He died to sin and lived for righteousness. He trusted God to fulfill His promises. Lot was a believer, but he did not die to the love of the world. Covetousness is a sinful strong desire to have something (material blessings) that belong to someone else, without any feelings for the other’s rights. It is an elemental desire, similar with hunger, thirst or sexual lust. You set your eyes and your heart on another’s property. It is connected to envy. Envy is unhappiness at another person’s success or possessions. You wish to have the same for yourself. It is also called ‘the love of money’. Jealousy is anger or bitterness against a person (not just his possessions). You think that person ‘stole’ your success or material gain. Christians who are led by money, who preach money, who desire money even above their testimony, are backsliding. We are commanded to withdraw from such. We are also commanded to actively seek and pursue the Kingdom of God, spiritual things, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith! Worship the Lord!