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Let Everything Go – Part 5

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz
The Truth Network Radio
October 15, 2023 3:00 pm

Let Everything Go – Part 5

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz

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Here's Anne Graham Lotz. We're going to continue in the life of Abraham, although in Chapter 13 the focus is not just on Abraham but perhaps a little bit more so on his nephew Lot. And just the contrast between Lot and Abraham teaches us something.

So if you'll turn to Chapter 13 of Genesis, we're going to begin where we left off in verse 5 and I'll read to the end of the chapter. Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. And quarreling arose between Abram's herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot.

The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time. So Abram said to Lot, let's not have any quarreling between you and me or between your herdsmen and mine, for we're brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Let's part company. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right.

If you go to the right, I'll go to the left. Lot looked up and he saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt towards Zoar. This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and he set out toward the east.

The two men parted company. Abram lived in the land of Canaan while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord. The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land for I am giving it to you.

So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron where he built an altar to the Lord. Easy go, Stuart Briscoe taught me how to catch monkeys. And I don't know if you've ever been taught how to catch a monkey but I'm going to tell you if you don't know how. First of all you have to go where there are some and you take a jar that's bigger at the bottom than it is at the top. So it's sort of like a beaker and it has a small opening. You put a banana down inside the jar and then you bury it in the ground so that it's totally submerged except that the mouth of the jar is level to the surface of the ground.

Then you go hide behind a bush. You wait until a monkey comes along and monkey's going to come along and he'll be sniffing and he can tell there's a banana somewhere and then his little sniffer takes him right over to that hole in the ground and he sniffs down the hole. He knows there's a banana down there. So he puts his hand in and he reaches in the jar and he fishes around and he finds a banana. So he puts his hand over the banana but now his hand over the banana has formed a fist that's too big to get out the top of the jar. And you've caught yourself a monkey because a monkey won't let go of his banana.

And he can fuss and scream and say he was meant to be free and swing through the trees and do all the things monkeys are supposed to do but he's stuck because he won't let go of his banana. So this is what I want to ask you. Are you surrounded by monkeys? And maybe you are one.

Maybe I should have asked you that. But I think if you're in Christian ministry and if you're teaching a Bible class, if you're pastoring a church, if you're even leading a Bible study, sooner or later you're going to come across the monkeys. And you know they screech and scream and they want to have victory in the Christian life. They want to have answers to prayer. They want to have peace in their heart. They want to have the joy of the Lord. They want the fullness of his blessing. But they won't let go of their banana.

It's very frustrating isn't it? Especially when you have decided to embrace the magnificent obsession and you want to pursue knowing God and making him known and receiving the fullness of his blessing so that you could be a blessing. And you challenge other people to do the same. And you know what God has to offer.

And you know the treasures of heaven and all the blessings in spiritual places and you know boiled right down is just Jesus. And they won't let go of their banana. And so I want to challenge you to keep your focus on what God has called you to do. So don't get distracted by the monkeys that are surrounding you. Lot was a monkey. And that's just the way I'll describe him. He was someone that in this passage I see clutching at least three bananas.

The first banana was the banana of superficiality. And I'm going to assume that Lot had made that initial choice to leave Ur of the Chaldees along with Abraham because he also wanted to pursue God. And I think that because he also got off the fence in Haran.

He left Haran and went with Abram when he came down to Canaan. And so I'm going to assume that in some way although God didn't lean out of heaven and speak to Lot when Abram described what God had said Lot also wanted God in his life. He also wanted to pursue the blessings of God. He wanted to be a blessing. One reason I believe that is not so much from the Genesis account but Peter tells us in the New Testament that Lot was a righteous man.

That he was just. Now we wouldn't really know that from this passage but that's what the New Testament tells us. And so I'm assuming that he made that initial choice to commit his life to God.

So in other words from a New Testament perspective I think we could probably say when we get to heaven we're going to see Lot. Because he was a righteous man and he was just. But I see that although he made that initial choice he was very superficial in his communication with God. Because it's very interesting there's never any record that Lot had any disciplined prayer life. In fact there's no record that he had any prayer life at all. In chapter 12 verse 7 when Abram built the altar he called on the name of the Lord and that was the equivalent of him praying. Verse 8 he built another altar he called on the name of the Lord that's the equivalent of Abram praying. Chapter 13 verse 4 he went back to Bethel he called on the name of the Lord that's the equivalent of him praying. Chapter 13 verse 18 he built an altar to the Lord called on the name of the Lord that's Abram's prayer life.

And that's just a hallmark that's the core of Abram's life. He's a man of prayer he's developing his relationship with God through communication through talking to God. But there's no record that Lot ever prayed. No record that he ever built an altar that he ever called on the name of the Lord and I don't know who the monkey is in your life.

Who is Lot? I have a lot in my life. And maybe the Lot is in your family, maybe living next door, maybe within your church, maybe in your Bible class, maybe in your Sunday school class, maybe it's a friend of yours and when do they pray? Are they always asking other people to pray for them? You know substituting the prayers of other people for their own disciplined prayer? Or Miss Johnson who trained me to teach said that you can tell sometimes people who don't have a prayer life because when they do pray out in public they pray on and on and on and on and you can tell they haven't had any time in private. And maybe your friend is like that maybe there's just no maybe they can pray in public, maybe they can pray out loud, maybe they pray before meal times. But you have a sense that there's no personal disciplined work of prayer in their lives.

And Lot had no personal communication with God. You cannot develop a personal relationship with God if there's no prayer in your life. So maybe I should ask you if there are just in the event there is a monkey in our midst, when do you pray? Are you developing your relationship with God through disciplined prayer? Not just praying as you drive, praying while you're going somewhere, you know emergency prayers, we can all do those even monkeys can pray when they get in a jam but I'm talking about time spent alone with the Lord. Speaking to him, pouring out your heart, letting him know what you're thinking, how you're feeling, just prayer and worship, prayer and praise, prayer and thanksgiving, prayer and confession, prayer and intercession for others. What's your prayer life like?

Lot was very superficial in his prayer life and the reason I'm guessing that there may be a monkey or two here because since I've been in ministry I was reading Revelation chapter 3, doing my three questions. What does it say? What does it mean?

What does it mean to me? And it came to our Lord's letter to the church at Sardis and in that letter the Lord it just leaped up off the page and had my name on it. I wish it didn't but it did and the Lord seemed to say to me, Ann, you have a reputation for being alive.

You go around the world, you tell other people about me, you bring other people to Christ but from my perspective you're dead. And I didn't think he meant I was totally dead but dying, shriveling in my relationship with him. And then he said, wake up, strengthen the things, remain. And I felt he was telling me literally to wake up. You know get up early in the morning, set my alarm, get up, spend time with him because I was so busy, so tired, I was letting that prayer life slide. And Alan Redpath, great old Bible teacher who is now with Jesus, but he said that he felt that what American Christians needed the most was blanket victory.

Just victory over those blankets in the morning. Just get up, have victory over those blankets, spend time with the Lord in prayer. If you don't, your relationship with the Lord is going to shrivel.

You cannot maintain it and develop it without an active prayer life. Lot had no active prayer life, he had no active schedule of Bible reading. There's no record of ever listen to the voice of God. Chapter 12 verse 1, the Lord said to Abram, God spoke to Abram, that's the equivalent of Abram opening up his Bible and reading it. And in chapter 12 verse 7, the Lord spoke to Abram again when he appeared to him and he said, that's the equivalent of Abram reading his Bible. And then we have in chapter 13 verse 14, the Lord said to Abram, once again that's the equivalent of Abram opening his Bible and reading it.

The Lord was speaking to Abram and Abram was listening to the voice of God. There's no record that God ever spoke to Lot. Lot never listened to the voice of God. He didn't know what it was like to read his Bible and hear God speaking to him through it. And I don't know about the monkey in your life, the Lot, are they reading books about the Bible? Even the Bible studies they go to are on personality traits or other things or how to be this kind of woman or this kind of man or books about and they're good.

And I don't want to put that down. But when do they actually get into God's words? When are they reading the Bible so that they can hear God speaking to them? And maybe they would even make the comment, well they don't believe God does that and you're taking it out of context and that's your interpretation but you know and they'll put down reading the word and listening for the voice because they never do. And if you say that you do and God speaks to you that makes them feel uncomfortable so they just say that you're not, you know you're a little on the fringe or that's not right or they don't make the time to listen to God's words.

He was superficial in his communication with God. And I think if I went years and never spoke to my husband I would damage my relationship. I probably, I mean if he stayed with me I probably wouldn't have much of a relationship. I think it would be just as bad if I did all the talking. You know and just nothing but a monologue. And never listened to my husband. When he spoke just jumping up, interrupting him, going on with what was on my mind, telling him what I wanted to say and never listening. And you can't develop a relationship with God if you don't develop an ear that's attentive to his words.

So that you're reading it not just for information and facts but you're reading it to hear the voice of God speaking to you through it. Lot never did that. And so he really didn't have a relationship with God. He was superficial in his communication with God and therefore he was superficial I think in his relationship or his commitment to God. Because his relationship with God seems to be lived out through Abram. So if you notice in chapter 12 verse 4 it says Abram left as the Lord had told him and Lot went with him. In chapter 13 verse 1 Abram went up from Egypt with his wife everything he had and Lot went with him. Chapter 13 verse 5 now Lot who was moving about with Abram.

So Lot was just with Abram. He was living out his life and his commitment to God through Abram. Sort of like maybe children who at a certain point they just live out their Christian life through the faith of their parents. And I think if they keep doing that when they go to college and they bump into a professor that begins to criticize the Bible or criticize their faith they lose their faith and we're all horrified because our children have lost our faith and went to college.

You know something they never had it in the first place. They were just living it out through the parent. And Lot was living it out through Abram. I remember as a teenager that's what I was doing. I was just living it out through my parents. And I thought when I stood before God you know God would say well Anne you know let's have an account for yourself and I would say God you know who my daddy is. And you know who my mother is. And he would give me credit for my parents. And I could sort of hide behind my parents. And then it struck me when I was a teenager I was about a senior in high school that when I stood before God I would stand before him and give an account of my life the way I had lived it.

That I couldn't live it out through somebody else. Cause there's somebody here maybe pretending to be more spiritual than you are living out your life through somebody else. You know something I think and I don't want to be sort of gender specific but I think sometimes men can do that. Because the wife seems to be more spiritual. The wife's the one that's active in the church and sometimes I think the man just to support the wife and you know encourage the wife and he's busy in business and that's the male thing but the wife is a spiritual person and she goes to church and she reads the Bible and she prays and he just lives out his commitment through her. Be careful that you don't entwine yourself with somebody and live out your relationship with God through that person or when you're separated from that person you're going to go right downhill.

We find lots. He did fine as long as he was with Abram. But when he was separated from Abram he very quickly went downhill. When he moved into Sodom it wasn't too long before he was totally immersed in the world and he couldn't maintain his focus and his commitment to God. If you were separated from your best Christian friend, your wonderful church, all the people around you that support you and encourage you in your faith and your relationship with God would you still remain strong because your commitment is your own and you're developing it yourself in a one on one relationship.

You've embraced that magnificent obsession for yourself never mind if nobody around you does. You're pursuing knowing God and making him known and receiving his blessing to be a blessing and Lot didn't. He lived out his life through Abram. One of the most discouraging things I think as a Bible teacher or as a pastor I would imagine of a church is to see people that you teach and that you lead when they leave the church or leave the class begin to drift from their commitment to God. I taught Bible study fellowship weekly for 12 years and after leaving the class after about 5 years I never will get over missing the people in my class, missing my leadership circle but after 5 years I was really really homesick for them and so I arranged once a month to have a luncheon with some of the women that I had discipled and just to see them again to see what they were doing to encourage them I felt like I wanted to be encouraged too and I just missed them and so I did it once a month for about a year maybe a little bit less than that and I stopped doing it because I got so discouraged. So many of the women who had been in my class for 5 years and I would turn them out after 5 years so you know unless they were in leadership they were in my class for 5 years teaching them every week never missed a class and then to see them in a 5 year period after that or whatever time period Benson said left class they were no longer really walking with the Lord just totally immersed back in the world. Now some of them have been outstanding and I don't want you to think that's generally speaking but there were enough of them that I stopped having lunch with them because it was so painful and for somebody who's teaching and you have such a desire to impart God's word into the life of somebody else I'll tell you the monkeys can get you so discouraged and so we want ourselves to have a genuine commitment to God that stands even if everybody else falls away but it can be discouraging when we see people that we're trying to impart the Lord to and they seem to make a commitment they have that initial choice and you know they can fool us for a little while about their communication and their commitment but then when they're separated from us they're separated they leave the Bible class they leave the church they leave their Christian friends maybe their job moves them somewhere else they move into another city and then when you recontact with them they've just drifted from the Lord still saved I don't mean they've lost their salvation you know I don't mean that but they're just not on that sharp edge of commitment living for Christ it's because they won't let go of their banana their superficiality there wasn't the discipline in their life they made the initial choice but and I don't know what pulled them away for a lot you know what I think it was I honestly believe it was going down to Egypt and when he went down to Egypt and he saw all the things and the pleasures and the prestige the possessions the position the power the popular all the things that are associated with the world and I think it turned his heart away from God even though he'd been with Abram for a while and you know he was pursuing God when he saw the world and all of its glamour and attractiveness and you know Egypt could make sin very attractive and that's what Lot wanted so now we see him not only gripping that banana of superficiality but gripping the banana of selfishness and when they went down to Egypt chapter 12 verse 16 says Abram had a lot of wealth chapter 13 verse 1 says that he came back very wealthy and Lot also had amassed a lot of livestock and animals and servants and he also had become very wealthy down in Egypt and so there was a dispute that arose within the home and the problem was that they had run out of something that both Abram and Lot needed and it was pasture land and there wasn't enough grazing land to support all of Abram's flocks and herds and all of Lot's flocks and herds and so there was one thing that they both needed but there wasn't enough for both of them and so that created a problem and I don't know if you've observed your Lot in a dispute like that that's over a problem where there's just not enough of something to go around you can see it in the office when there's one computer and you need to share that time at the computer or you know something else maybe maybe it's in your home and there's one remote to the TV and something you both need but there's only one of it maybe it's more serious as in a divorce settlement when you're together in a marriage there's enough to go around when you want to divide it up there's just not enough for both of you to live in the way you've been accustomed to living and so there's you both need the same thing so that was the problem the problem became personal when fighting broke out between the herdsmen and so Lot's herdsmen and Abram's herdsmen began fighting over the pasture land and and so I can imagine if Lot's animals got over on Abram's side Abram's herdsmen say get off of our side that's our pasture land and Lot would say no that's mine and they would say no that's mine no that's mine that's mine that just like two-year-olds fighting over the pasture land pushing them off grabbing it for themselves and has fighting broken out within your church within your Bible class your Sunday school class within your home and it's a problem that has arisen because there's not enough of something to go around and so now the fighting has broken out and you know the practical problem that's a personal problem becomes a spiritual problem because it says in verse 7 that the Canaanites and parasites were in the land and it gives us the impression the Canaanites and parasites were watching and you know the Canaanites and parasites I mean they're the worldlings they're the wicked obscene people that we saw Abraham building his altars in front of in fact he had built his altars in front of them and he had witnessed to them that the one way to worship God is through the blood of the lamb and I'm worshiping the one true living God and the way that he prescribes and I'm developing a relationship with God and I build my altars and I pray in your face and I worship God in your face and he had been public about his relationship with God and now fighting has broken out in his home and you know the Canaanites and parasites are just watching to see what's happening in this home because you know fighting breaks out in their homes all the time I mean their disputes personal practical they just you know they're always grabbing for what they can get and so they want to see if this weird person when disputes arise is there any difference in the way he handles them in his home what difference is there when you know the rubber hits the road and a dispute rises how do they handle it and is it any different from the way it's handled in the home of a Canaanite and parasite who's watching you and your home now here's Ann with this final word today's message focused on prayer disciplined prayer a vitally important aspect of prayer is this you are speaking to a living person one who has ears to hear you and eyes to see you and a heart to love you and hands to guide you and a will to direct you God is not a ghost or an icon in a stained glass window or a marble statue he's a living person who loves you and me and invites us to draw near and full assurance of faith that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us but don't miss the condition to effective prayer in Hebrews 11 six anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that it rewards those who earnestly seek him when you pray you are speaking to a living invisible person what better time to focus on our relationship with God it's why Jesus came come to him in personal prayer as Abraham stayed in God's presence God stayed in his God allowed himself to be detained what a wonderful truth that when you and I draw near to God he draws near to us to draw near to him living in the light is a weekly program with messages from God's Word with Ann Graham Lots and her series the magnificent obsession to help and encourage you in your work for the Lord we invite you to Ann Graham Lots org it's a great opportunity to further read study live by and love God's Word you'll find Ann's daily blog her messages Bible studies books audio and video that will enhance your study your going forward that Ann spoke of today for helping your study of God's Word look for Ann's book the magnificent obsession as well as free resources and plan to join us again for living in the light.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-19 01:30:51 / 2023-10-19 01:40:52 / 10

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