Today on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. Abraham thought of God's presence as paradise. Abraham said God wherever you are that's paradise and I'd rather be in the desert with you because to be in the riches without you would be hell. So I'm going to prioritize you above anything and I'm going to say I'll just go where you are because that's paradise to me. What you give your first and your best to shows what you think of as paradise, what you treasure most. What you give your first and best to shows what you trust most in your life. Welcome to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of J.D. Greer.
I'm Molly Vitovich. Have you sat down recently and evaluated what is in your life that gets your first and your best? Where does God fall in your list of priorities? Does he get your resources first or last? Does he get your time and talents first or the leftovers after a busy day? Those are convicting questions for sure and today Pastor J.D. explains that whatever it is that gets your first and best reveals what serves as God in your life.
If you've missed any of the messages from our Multiply series you can always listen when you go online to jdgreer.com. Today's message is titled Prioritize Me and Multiply. Y'all every single leadership book that I've ever read says that establishing priorities is the most essential key to success in life or career.
Knowing what in a long list of good things, knowing what's got to come first, knowing which things are mission critical and which things may be nice but are not essential. In the kingdom of God that is especially true. Genesis 13, let's begin here in verse one. So Abram went up from Egypt.
He and his wife and all that he had and a guy named Lot who was his nephew went with him into the Negeb which was a region in what became later Israel. Verse two, now Abram was very rich in livestock, rich in silver, rich in gold and he journeyed as far as Bethel to the place where he made an altar at the very first. If you underline stuff in your Bible I would encourage you to underline that. So take out a pen, do that.
If you don't have a pen, lipstick, mascara, prick your finger, dab it in blood, whatever it takes. That's a good phrase to remember. And there Abram again called on the name of the Lord. Verse five, and Lot who went with Abram also had flocks and herds and dents so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together. For their possessions were so great that they couldn't dwell together and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock. So Abraham says to Lot, you know there doesn't need to be strife between you and me. Isn't this a big place? Isn't the whole land in front of us? I tell you what man, if you take the left hand then I'll go to the right.
If you take the right hand then I will go to the left. Y'all what Abraham does here is pretty unheard of. The average observer in those days would have expected one of two reactions to this situation. The first one would be war. The first war and Abraham is a lot stronger, a lot older. He's clearly going to be the one who wins that war. Or he could just ask Lot to go somewhere else since Abraham is clearly the big man in this party. He's older. He's the uncle.
Lot's the nephew. He's richer. He's the one who received the promise directly from God. I mean if anything Lot's just kind of a tag along sharing in Abraham's successes. But Abraham does neither of those things.
Not only does he avoid conflict, he gives the lesser man the better choice. And it's just unheard of in those days. It's unheard of in our day. How many of you had an older brother growing up at all campuses raise your hand? It's like your older brother at dinner giving you the extra piece of chicken or the last brownie. It's just unheard of.
It's not going to happen. Verse 10 and Lot lifted up his eyes and he saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord. That's another key phrase you want to underline that. Verse 11, so Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley and Abram settled in the land of Canaan while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and he moved his tent as far as Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked.
They were great sinners against the Lord. Verse 14, after Lot had separated from him the Lord said to Abram, Abram lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are northward then southward then eastward and westward for all the land that you see now I'm going to give to you and your offspring forever. I'll make your offspring like the dust of the earth. If somebody could count the specks of dust on the face of the earth then yes your offspring also could be counted. If there were ever a way to increase the number the size of the promise there God did it.
It was just going to be the stars of the sky but now it's the particles of dust on the earth. Arise verse 17, arise Abram and walk through the length and the breadth of the land for every place you go and everything you see I will give to you. What you see here in this story is a contrast between two different sets of priorities, two different ways of looking at the world. Both Lot and Abram are ambitious men and both men made smart decisions according to a particular system of values. But Abraham's choice is going to lead to increased prosperity, increased blessing and multiplication while Lot's choice is going to lead to destruction. You don't see it in this story but Abraham is going to have to rescue Lot not once but twice from the Jordan valley. The first time is going to be in the next chapter, chapter 14 when the kings of Sodom kidnap Lot and Abraham has to go rescue him.
The second time is going to be in chapter 18. This time Abraham rescues Lot just minutes before God destroys Sodom and the entire Jordan valley. And in the process he destroys all of Lot's fortune and Lot's wife is going to turn around and look back because she so loves the Jordan valley that she's going to get turned into a pillar of salt. So let's look at the value systems and let's look at the priorities of each man. All right let's look at Lot first. Lot number one, Lot prioritized the riches that he could see. Lot prioritized the riches that he could see. When Lot looked out at the options, Lot made his choice based on one factor and one factor alone.
Which direction, which choice can make me wealthier? Now y'all financially his choice was a good choice. It was the right choice. But in the process Lot shows total disregard perhaps even disdain for spiritual things. We know that Lot knew God.
He was a worshiper of God but there is no prayer nor any consultation with God in this choice. And Lot chooses to make his home next to Sodom which was notorious for its wickedness. He puts his family in grave spiritual danger and he did so primarily or entirely because Sodom was where the money was at.
And you're going to see these choices play out tragically in his family. If you follow the trajectory of Lot you'll see in chapter 13 he moves next to Sodom. But by chapter 14 he's no longer next to Sodom. Chapter 14 is going to say he's in Sodom. By chapter 19 not only is Lot in Sodom, he's one of the most respected men in Sodom. And eventually when God calls him to get out, like I mentioned his wife is so in love with the material prosperity and the way of life in Sodom that she can't leave it. And so God turns her into a pillar of salt. Listen, God sometimes calls his people to live in Sodom. The point is not that we're supposed to live in a place that doesn't have sin in it because that would be we can't really live anywhere. The problem is that Lot prioritized the material prosperity of Sodom and the Jordan Valley above God.
Do you hear that? It's not that he chose to live where sin was, it's that he prioritized the Jordan Valley and its riches above God. I know people who are in jobs that are terrible for their family and terrible for their spiritual life. Their jobs leave them no time for family, no time to serve the kingdom of God. But that job pays for a lifestyle they've convinced themselves that they need and that they've always wanted so they stay in it regardless of what it does to their family or to their spiritual life. I know of couples with kids where both parents work not because they feel called to it or not because they believe it is the wisest use of their gifts or not because it's truly what they think is right for their family. They do so entirely because two incomes are required to pay for this lifestyle they've convinced themselves that they want. I know parents whose kids are not really involved at the church because they are so committed to dance to baseball or softball and listen, I get it.
I have four kids and my oldest kid is getting ready to be a teenager and as they get older it is hard to figure out how to balance everything, all the demands that are put on them and all the opportunities that are out there. But let's face it, your kid is probably not going to play in the major leagues but they are definitely going to go to heaven or hell. So why would you sacrifice spiritual things on the altar of something you know is passing, fleeting and improbable? When I watch it seems that many of you parents care more about where your kids go to college than where they spend eternity and honestly that's sad. What good is it if you and your children become leading men and women in Sodom but they lose their soul? It's not that these other things are wrong, it's just that God should get the priority in all your decisions. He ought to have the first and the weightiest place.
Let me give you one more here. What's the primary factor in the career you chose and where you chose to pursue it? One of the things we say around here is that what it means to follow Jesus in your career field is whatever you're good at, whatever you're good at and God didn't make you all good at what I do, it'd make you all good at ministry per se but whatever you're good at you ought to do it well to the glory of God and do it somewhere strategic for the mission of God. Many factors go into where you choose to pursue your career and they're all legitimate.
Where your family, your extended family, where you want to live, where you can make the most money, those are all great great factors. Why shouldn't the kingdom of God and the mission of God be the largest and the weightiest of the factors that go into where you choose to pursue your career? We always tell our graduates here you got to get a job somewhere so why not get a job in a place where God is doing something strategic? You see Lot's primary concern, Lot's primary concern is in where he pursued his career was where he could make the most money and it does not turn out well for Lot.
In fact, he loses everything. Whatever you're good at, do it well to the glory of God. Do it somewhere strategic for the mission of God. There are families in our church that have chosen to uproot from the neighborhoods they live in, comfortable neighborhoods that they've always preferred to live in, to move into under-resourced neighborhoods, neighborhoods with people who aren't like them, neighborhoods with people we're not reaching, neighborhoods that are filled with refugees so that they can live out the gospel there in those places.
Now I'm not saying that's for everybody, my family has not done that, but I'm saying that is an example of somebody who's saying I'm going to put the kingdom of God first and the choices that I make and if this is what God has called me to do, even if it's not where I'd normally prefer to live, it's a place where I know that I can serve the kingdom of God. So Lot prioritized the riches he could see, not the kingdom of God. Number two, Lot prioritized self-interest over generosity. Lot prioritizes self-interest over generosity. Lot chose what was best for him, even though in this case he actually had to wrong, he had to wrong his uncle Abraham to do it. I mean Abraham, as I explained clearly, should have been given the better choice. In other words, listen, Lot is miles away from a generous heart.
Lot is like the opposite of a generous heart. Lot thinks about the prosperity of one person in his choices and that is Lot, him, himself, and his immediate family. By contrast, we have Abraham. Abraham, by contrast, number one, prioritizes the kingdom of God. Abram's question was not where's the best land, Abram's question is God where do you want me to go? That's why I pointed out to you in verses three and four that his first act upon coming into the new land was to build an altar and to ask God what he wanted. In fact, the place where he went, the moment he got back into this land, the place where he went was Bethel where he had previously heard from God because he said, God, the first thing that I need in this new chapter of my life is I need to hear what you want from this chapter of my life. In other words, Abraham thought about God first and he thought about God most in every decision.
You see that not only in how he makes his decisions, you see that in what he does with the blessings and the victories he gets from his decisions. In the next chapter, 14, I mentioned that Lot is going to get captured by some of the kings of Sodom and Abraham is going to pull off a rescue operation against incredible odds, against armies that are much larger than the men that he has, and he pulls off a great victory. Well, in the process, he ends up with a lot of spoil from the kings who attacked him, which makes him even richer. Now you would think Abraham say, well, I mean, that's mine because I mean, they attacked me and I was doing a rescue thing.
And so I earned that. But the first thing, the very first thing Abraham does after getting all this spoil is he tithes, literally it says he gives 10% to a mysterious man named Melchizedek who is presented in this chapter as a priest of God. He's a priest of God. Not only was God Abraham's first thought in making the decision, God was the first place Abraham turned after the victory to say thank you because Abraham recognized that every blessing and all the prosperity came from God and thus God should get the first fruit of everything Abraham received.
He's going to get the first and the best. Now you say, well, why would he give it to this guy named Melchizedek as a way of giving it to God? Throughout the Bible, whenever you give to God, there's always an institution or somebody or something that God says, this is going to be my means of working on earth.
In this case, it's Melchizedek. In the Old Testament, it's going to become the Jewish priestly system, that was God's representative. In the New Testament, in the New Testament, you're going to see God take the local church and say, this is going to be the hub of the activity that I do on earth.
My ministry, the way that I make disciples, the way that I spread the kingdom of God is going to be through the local church. So if you read through the pages of Acts, you'll find that God is working through one institution and that is the local church, which is why we say here, you don't give to the church, you give through the church. You're giving through the church to the kingdom of God, the way that Abraham gave to God his first and his best through Melchizedek. So Abraham prioritized the kingdom of God. Number two, Abraham prioritized generosity over self-interest. When you think about it, Abraham thought about himself third in this decision. God was first, Lot was second, Abraham was third. Because of that, guess who thought about Abraham's needs? God did. Because Abraham thought about God first, Lot second, Abraham third, guess who took personal responsibility for Abraham?
God did. Y'all, I love this verse. There's a verse that I have just written very close to my heart.
When we think about it, my wife and I quite often. Proverbs 19 17, whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord. He will repay him for his deed. If you're going to loan somebody money, you're always curious as to whether or not they're gonna have the capacity to pay you back. When you make a gift, when you give to somebody that is poor, God says, I actually become the guarantor of that loan.
I will make sure that you get paid back. When you give to the poor, I'm the one who takes responsibility for making sure that it comes back to you. Or here's another promise, Proverbs 11 24, whoever brings blessing will be enriched.
And the one who waters will himself be watered. Abraham experienced that. Abraham put God first, Lot second, and God as a result said, man, I'm gonna multiply what I gave to you beyond your wildest imaginations. So Lot prioritized the riches he could see, and he prioritized self-interest. Abraham prioritized the kingdom of God, and he prioritized generosity. Here's my question for you, Summit Church, which man better epitomizes or exemplifies your approach to life? Which man, Lot or Abram, better exemplifies your approach to life?
Let me give you a few diagnostic questions that may help you answer that. The first one, letter A, what is first in your decisions? What comes first and what is the weightiest in your decisions? The closest thing I have to a life verse is Matthew 6 33. It is a verse that my father gave to me right before I left for college. And Matthew 6 33 says this, you seek first, Jesus said, you seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these other things are gonna be added to you.
Now, what are all these other things? Well, if you look at Matthew 6, my dad explained, he said, it's everything else you feel like you need in life. He said, son, you put God first in every decision you make, and God will take care of providing you with a spouse.
You put God first and God will take care of making sure that your financial needs are met, make sure that you get the wisdom you need to pursue your career. You put God first in everything, and he says that he will take responsibility for all the other needs in your life. You put God first, he'll throw everything else in that you need. What that means, if you're going to do that, is in every decision that you make, you go to Bethel. In every decision you make, you go to Bethel and say, God, what do you want from this?
What is the way that I prioritize the mission and the kingdom in this part of my life, in this decision? Here's the second diagnostic question, letter B, does God get the first and best of all that you receive? Does God get the first and the best of all you receive? Abraham is going to give God the first and the best of everything God gives to him as a way of saying it all comes from you.
Thank you. Let me tell you another Bible story really quickly that I've known for years, but I've learned to look at it in a new way because I've seen some stuff in it I'd never seen before that has totally rocked me. It's the story of Cain and Abel. Cain and Abel are the two sons of Adam and Eve. Cain and Abel, Cain would eventually kill Abel.
The incident that led to that murder was this one. Cain and Abel both want to make an offering to God. Now listen very closely. Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd. So Abel makes an offering of his animals to God and Cain makes an offering of the harvest to God and God rejects Cain's offering and accepts Abel's.
It's going to make Cain so mad that he kills Abel. The question we ought to ask is what was it about Cain's offering that God rejected? And if you go through the chapter Genesis 4 and look very carefully, you're only going to find one distinction that is given about the two offerings. The distinction is it says this, Genesis 4, Abel gave to God the firstborn of his flock. What that means is that the very first lambs that were born to his flock got Abel offer those up to God and said God these belong to you. Now if you've been watching you might have said Abel how do you know they're going to have more you know sheep?
How do you know that's not the last of them? What if you give that to God then there's nothing left to take care of you? Abel would have said well I'm going to leave God with that. I'm going to trust God.
He's going to get the first and the best and I'll trust him to give me what I need afterwards. Cain by contrast it says in Genesis 4 that he waited until the entire harvest was in and when the entire harvest was in and he saw everything that he'd been given then he made his offering to God. It never says that his offering was smaller. It never said that he just threw a little tip to God. All it says is that he gave to God last. Abel gave to God first. Cain is what we would call around here a December giver. He waits until the end of the year to see to make sure he's got everything that he's going to need and then he's like God I'm going to give to you out of the excess of what I can spare.
God is pleased with Abel's offering and he rejects Cain's. Here's my question for you. What is your approach? Which represents your approach to giving? Because see whatever you give your first and best to whatever you give your first and best to reveals what is God in your life. Whatever you give your first and best to reveals what's God in your life.
A friend of mine says it this way. Everybody, everybody tithes to something. Everybody gives their first and their best to something and what you give your first and your best to shows it reveals what you treasure most in your life.
If you give the first and the best of your paycheck to improving your lifestyle then that shows that what you deem most important in life to be comfort or status. Did you notice in verse 10 that Lot described the Jordan Valley like the Garden of the Lord? Remember I pointed that out to you? It's like the Garden of Eden. That's what he saw. There's a reason that the writer describes it.
There's a reason Lot thinks of it that way. You see what he saw, listen to this, had a spiritual dimension to him. He thought this is paradise. The riches of the Jordan Valley equal paradise. If I have that then I'll be in paradise. I'll be in paradise.
So naturally it came first in his decisions. Abraham by contrast thought of God's presence as paradise. Abraham said God wherever you are that's paradise and I'd rather be in the desert with you because that's paradise because to be in the riches without you would be hell. So I'm going to prioritize you above anything and I'm going to say I'll just go where you are because that's paradise to me. What you give your first and your best to shows what you think of as paradise.
What you treasure most. What you give your first and best to shows what you trust most in your life. If the first thing you do with your paycheck is save from it. If you give your first and your best of savings that's because money is what you trust.
You think that you are responsible to secure your future. Abel could give the first of the flock to God even though he didn't know what was going to come afterwards because he trusted God to provide more flock. Abraham could be generous with the land because he trusted God was going to provide him with the land that God wanted him to have. I heard about a pastor who there was a couple in his church who were having trouble with this concept of giving God the first and the best and like pastor we just don't see how we're gonna you know we feel like our budget's so tight we're not gonna be able to make ends meet and the pastor said this he said I'll tell you what why don't you write a check out for what you think represents your first and your best to God. Write that check out give it to me and I'm going to take it and I'm going to put it in my desk drawer and I'm going to wait to the end of the month I won't cash it until the very end of the month and if at the end of the month you don't have enough money to pay your bills and meet your needs I will take the check back out and I will give it to you.
Does that sound reasonable? And the couple kind of looked at each other and said yeah that sounds reasonable we think we can do that and then the pastor said shame on you because you trust me your pastor more than you trust God. Who do you relate to most today Lot or Abraham? You're listening to Summit Life. If you missed any of the messages in this series or if you'd just like to listen again you can find them all online at jdgrier.com.
This study is titled Multiply. As we close out this tempestuous year of 2020 we invite you to prayerfully consider investing in J.D. Greer Ministries so that we can continue to share the good news of Jesus Christ. After all the gospel is one unchanging truth in this ever-changing world.
A truth that we can rely on no matter what comes next. Today when you give to Summit Life we have a new evangelistic resource from Pastor J.D. It's a book we want you to have this holiday season titled Searching for Christmas.
It explores how Christmas offers us all that we truly need in this year of uncertainty. We'll send you two copies for a suggested donation of $25. That's one for you to keep and one free to give away. You also have the option of receiving five copies of Searching for Christmas by Pastor J.D. for a $50 donation or 10 copies for a gift of $100. What a wonderful way to give the gospel away this year.
This offer is brand new when you contact us with your gift by calling 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220 or give online at jdgrier.com. While you're on the website you'll want to subscribe to Pastor J.D. 's blog to help you enjoy God's grace to us throughout the week.
Sign up online at jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Vitovich. So glad you joined us today. Remember to tune in Monday when we'll go over a few diagnostic questions that will help you set priorities that reflect the kingdom of God. We'll see you next week on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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