Together We Follow: Genesis 14:17-24

We last saw Abram in a moment of victory. With improbable odds, he took on a rescue mission to save his nephew, Lot, from kings who had conquered and kidnapped the people of Sodom.

Despite the greater number of men, weapons, and experience that his men faced, Abram was victorious in the battle.

We pick up after the victory, when Abram meets Melchizedek – priest of the Most High God, King of Salem (a place later to be called Jerusalem).

 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said:“Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”

And he gave him a tithe of all.

Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.”

 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’—except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.”

As I’ve thought about this moment in time, I tried to put myself in Abram’s shoes. This is not a period of time in which many know the Most High God. Abram came from a family and a place that worshiped idols…. we aren’t told that he encountered anyone else on his journey so far who professed a relationship with the God he had come to know.

What encouragement, then, it must have been for Melchizedek to come to him. What unexpected grace and confirmation of God’s faithfulness it was to have this priest of the Most High minister to him.

We can’t know what Abram was feeling or what, exactly, his heart was in need of after facing such a battle to win back his family.

But even while Abram was still in the fierce fight, God was already moving to spread a table before him…God was already guiding Melchizedek to prepare for Abram’s visit…God was already providing what Abram would need.

Melchizedek gave nourishment for body and soul — bread and wine, blessing, reminder of the One who had given Abram the victory.

And so when the king of Sodom offered Abram the spoils of battle, Abram said no. He knew the One who was making a way for him in this strange new land. He was seeing, day by day, the power and goodness of his God…and he wanted no confusion about the source of his strength.

I believe that our Father takes delight in preparing good things for us, in being the One we look to for what we need. Whether we are in the heat of battle, in a place of peace, in a moment of victory, in the day-to-day paths we walk — God is the One who nourishes us, who knows what we need before we can even realize it ourselves.

God sent Melchizedek to meet Abram, to refresh and encourage him…as I thought about how loving this was, it dawned on me — for you and I, God came Himself. Through the work of Christ on the cross and the coming of the Holy Spirit into our lives, we have an ever-abiding comfort and sustaining power. The Father looked ahead and saw our needs…and for us, He prepared an open invitation to His table, to His Word, to His presence, to the throne of Grace.

This is the love of our God toward us — He Himself became our bread and wine, our living water that satisfies every thirst, our blessing, our portion.

It’s my hope that we will center our trust and our dependence upon Him so that we will understand, more and more, His faithfulness to sustain us…and when anyone looks at our lives, they will know – everything we have and everything we are has come from our Father.

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For Days that Are Full & Hearts that Are Tired

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As the season begins to change and we find our hands full of “to-do, go-there, be-this, don’t-forget-that”, may we always remember to empty our full hands into His hands.  Let us give it all to the One who loves us so completely that He wants to carry our burdens for us. We don’t have to figure it all out for ourselves.  He will order our steps…He will make our way straight.  He will “bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work”. (2 Cor. 9:8)   Yes, the day can bring whatever it will bring…and if we are keeping company with Christ, He will empower us in every circumstance. I believe that, placed in His care-taking, our lives can be full — but not frantic. We can be pressed and still His peace will preside. We will not be stressed, but sustained. We can look at our hands full of busy and know that, in Him, even burdens can become blessings.

And even if it is one of those days when our emotions tell us that we are barely hanging on — because those days do come —  He is still beneath and behind and before us. We are not just hanging on to Him. He is holding us. We are safely and securely in the palm of His hand.  He never lets us go.  (You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me…your right hand will hold me fast. –from Psalm 139)

 So no matter how we feel and no matter what our rush-around world may bring — may we pro-actively surrender our schedules for a quiet breath, a slow-down space, wait-on-the-Lord moments. We need Him…we need time to surrender our day-to-day lives to the One who is Lord over every emotion, every blessing, every trouble that comes our way, every task on our agenda, everything in our lives. May we open His Word and carry it in our hearts, living out His love and light everywhere we go. May we seek Him in stillness, may we allow Him to be the center of our lives…

…and when we take these feeble steps in obedience toward Him, even as our legs tremble and our feet falter, He is the Father running to meet us. Boundless, He crosses the space between and gives us far more than we could ever begin to give to Him.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak…those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. ~ from Isaiah 40

Sufficient

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need.

My strength comes into its own in your weakness.’

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over!

And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” ~2 Corinthians 12:9-10

A reminder, today, as we face a new week: He is strong enough for all your needs. He is grace enough for all your failures. He is peace enough for all your fears. He is faithful enough for all your doubts. He is love enough for all of your heart…for all of your life.

Trust Him with everything you are and everything you’re not. You will find that, in all things…He is day-by-day, step-by-step, mourning-to-dancing, night-by-night, seed-to-harvest sufficient. He is all you need. He’ll provide everything you need to keep going…to handle what comes your way…to live in freedom and abundant joy even when hardship shows up. Paul says his weakness is a gift and this seems so strange to us, so impossible. But it’s true – because when we have hardships and let Him ‘take over’, our troubles in His hands, we find the sweet mercy of His invitation is true…we can rest in Him (while He’s working it all together for our good!), with a yoke easy and a burden light.

There was a time when I wasn’t sure that this was true. It was frightening, trusting Him to be everything…to let Him do His work in and for my life. But when I submitted that fear…when I depended on Him when everything else was falling down fast around me…He was there. He was sufficient. He is sufficient for my heart, every day.

May you take Him at His Word…and find Him ever true.