I love what happens in Genesis 13:8. Abram recognizes that the conflict or strife between Lot and himself could not continue. When we get wrapped up in conflict, it may keep us from keeping our eyes fixed on God and His call on our life. It also may cause division. God’s Word speaks a lot about unity, not division. He wants a united people, a united people with a heart for Him.
Abram takes the initiative to do something about it, rather than allow the conflict to continue. What a great example of a leader—one who can notice a situation and take steps to ensure it would not lead to something worse. This meant a separation from his nephew, but it was necessary. It reminds me of what Jesus says in Matthew, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
God has great plans for His people. It requires us to humble ourselves and have a unity of mind. What does this mean? It means we are united for one purpose – doing the will of God. We don’t allow ourselves to get in the way, to be a stumbling block, to what God is doing. We don’t put ourselves first, but we show brotherly love to others and look out for their best interests. We trust that God has the best plan, and we surrender to it.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” – Matthew 5:9 [ESV]
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” – 1 Peter 3:8 [ESV]
When I speak with people about church, they always ask the denomination. Then I say, “Oh it’s non-denominational.” It’s an interesting phrase. There’s different denominations (for example Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist). Then there’s non-denominational. Those are the churches that claim to not be affiliated with any of the known denominations. After the Early Church that you read about in Acts, things started to break apart. As time continued, groups were formed from other groups. Some churches have so many different divisions in their names, it becomes a tongue twister.
The denominations all came about from a difference of beliefs. This still happens today, hence the reason we have tons of church plants and longer than life names. The reason for the differences of beliefs, and at times, disunity of the church, is because we are a broken people. The church is filled with sinners, many sinners who are saved by grace alone. But we aren’t perfect. Some of us are proud, lazy, quick to speak, discontent, disorganized, agenda focused, bossy, or fable telling folks. We aren’t perfect, so it’s hard for us to all live together in harmony.
Nonetheless, the Bible speaks a lot about unity or harmony. Yes, that’s the vision God has for His Church. The capital “C” Church is the universal church. Broken down, this is all of the denominations and non-denominations. Together, as the big C, we need to be united. Remember, the Church is the body of Christ. The Church is people, not buildings. As the big C, we must remember Who we worship, Who we follow, Who is the Head of the Body. Even so, all of the little C’s need to also be united as separate bodies.
This seems like an impossible task. People can rarely get along. There are bound to be disagreements. Yes. Very true. But with God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Remember the reason for the Church. Keep running the race. The Spirit will unite us if we allow ourselves to be led (Ephesians 4:3). Don’t be proud. Don’t think you know it all. Humble yourself and seek the best for others (1 Corinthians 10:24). Love. It’s the bond of perfect unity (see Colossians 3:14). Live in harmony.
“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” – Romans 12:16 [NLT]
My daughter loves to sketch and paint. She has a lot of talent. Yes, I’m biased but you can look for yourself. Talent can get you so far in life, but experience is always necessary. God gives us all talents, but He also takes us through many experiences in life to grow us to properly use our talent.
In Exodus 18 and Deuteronomy 1, we read of the leader selection process in the Old Testament. Listed character traits include those who fear God, who are honest, who are wise, who are understanding, and who are EXPERIENCED. The wisdom and the understanding comes as we continue to fear God and walk with Him. The experiences of life, the dark valleys and high mountains of life that God leads us through, teach us and stretch us. It is through experience that we become more capable.
Each of us are leaders. We are created to be leaders. But we aren’t where we are meant to be in life, and we certainly aren’t the leaders we could be to those we lead. Allow God to use you where you are at right now. Keep your ears and eyes open. Ask for Him to use you. Don’t be selective. Allow the Spirit to lead you. Serve where He places you. Soak up the experience. Glean from what He has placed before you. God wants to teach you. He wants to raise you up. Don’t let yourself get in the way. To be a better leader in your home, at church, in your workplace, on the field, you need to humble yourself as a servant of Christ, and forever remember that He both qualifies you and places you. Always stay focused on Him; always point to Him.
“But select capable men from all the people–men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain–and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.” – Exodus 18:21 [NIV]
“Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will appoint them as your heads.” – Deuteronomy 1:13 [ESV]
I love candles. Not only do they provide a calming atmosphere and a nice scent, but they also add some warmth to my home during this cold winter season. When I went to light up my one candle this morning, I realized that the wick was missing. I didn’t follow the instructions on the candle. The directions explained the need to trim the wick and the importance of only burning a candle for a few hours. I did not listen. I figured something as simple as a candle didn’t require instructions. Now my wick was missing. My candle was useless without the wick.
In life, we have God’s Word so easily accessible to us and yet there are so many times when we ignore His Word for whatever reason. We end up taking some bad turns, digging ourselves into a whole, making some mistakes. My candle wick was only missing. I took a screwdriver and I was able to locate the wick. If you have been ignoring God, do not think that you cannot humble yourself and come before Him now. No matter what mess you have made, what problems are weighing you down, what wrong turns you have taken in life, God can redeem you. He can cleanse you. He can make you a new creation. All you need to do is draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you.
Right now, my candle is burning bright. Allow God to shine His light in your life—and see how much greater life can be when He is at the center.
“And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.” – Colossians 1:20-22 [ESV]