- Sermon Notes
Strengthened thru Strife
ILLUS – A week without strife…
1. In this life we will encounter difficult situations and difficult people.
2. When strife shows its ugly face and it looks like division is inevitable, how should we respond?
3. God’s Word gives us marvelous principles to live by.
4. Today, we will look at the example of Abraham and discover how he handled the strife that rose up in his family.
READ Genesis 13:5-18
1. After a short stay in Egypt, Abraham returned to the place where he had first pitched his tent and built his second altar, between Bethel (“House of God”) and Ai (“Heap of Ruins”).
2. Abraham had learned a valuable lesson while in Egypt; that God had called him to walk by faith and not by sight.
3. Now, while living in the Promised Land, still a sojourner for the land was promised to his descendants, another problem arose.
4. According to Genesis 13:5-7, Abraham and Lot, Abraham’s nephew, had become so wealthy their herdsmen were striving with one another to water and feed their animals.
5. Word of this struggle made its way back to Abraham and Lot.
6. Something needed to be done… too much was at stake!
I. Faith Bears Good Fruit in the Midst of Strife (8-9)
A. Faith is gracious (8a)
1. Abraham had seniority over Lot.
2. God promised Abraham the land of Canaan.
3. Yet, Abraham approached Lot graciously.
a. Abraham could have lashed out at Lot in anger.
b. Abraham could have demanded that Lot leave.
c. But Abraham said, “please”.
APPL – When strife happens… what’s the first word that comes to your mind or out of your mouth?
APPL – When you are assured of God’s promises, gracious fruit is produced. But it is hard to be gracious when you lack such assurance.
Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned as it were with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each
ILLUS – President Abraham Lincoln’s “Hot Letter”
B. Faith seeks unity (8b)
1. Strife is inevitable in a fallen world, even in families.
1 Corinthians 11:19, “No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval.” (NIV)
2. Abraham’s faith motivated him to take the first step.
a. He did not ignore the problem.
Matthew 5:23-24, “If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against
you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”
b. Nor did Abraham get angry and walk away.
James 1:19-20, “But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness
c. Abraham sought to win over Lot’s heart by appealing to him as a brother.
ILLUS – Mission’s trip goes south after I offend a brother.
APPL – When strife happens… are you more concerned about being “right” or being “reconciled”?
3. Abraham’s faith motivated him to maintain a good witness.
a. Abraham had blown his testimony in Egypt.
b. In the Promised Land, Abraham sought to maintain his witness before the Canaanites and Perizzites.
John 17:20-21, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one;
even as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
APPL What do we do if someone doesn’t want to reconcile? You’ve apologized and taken responsibility, but they’re done. What
Romans 12:17-18, 21, “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it
depends on you, be at peace with all men. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
C. Faith puts others first (9)
1. Abraham could have declared his right to pick first because God had promised him the land.
2. But Abraham had learned his lesson about putting himself first while in Egypt.
3. By faith, Abraham let Lot pick first because he knew God would keep His promise.
ILLUS – “Over my dead body!!!”
APPL – If God’s in it… I don’t have to fret, control, or manipulate!
Philippians 2:3-5, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more
important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves
which was also in Christ Jesus.”
II. God Rewards Faith (14-18)
Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder
of those who seek Him.”
A. Only faith is rewarded (14-17)
Romans 14:23, “… and whatever is not from faith is sin.”
1. Now that Lot is gone, God speaks to Abraham again.
a. “Lift up your eyes”: North, South, East, and West
b. This will be your descendants land forever.
c. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth. Later, God promised Abraham that his descendants would be like the stars in the sky! Day or not, Abraham was reminded of God’s promise.
2. “Arise and walk” – I will give it to you
a. Know the land
b. Enjoy what I am going to do for you
B. Faith responds in humble worship (18)
1. Abraham did as the Lord told him.
a. He traveled the land.
b. Each day, he looked at the dust under his feet and the stars in the night sky to be reminded of God’s promises.
2. Abraham pitched his tent in Hebron and built an altar.
a. To express his gratitude
b. To express his devotion
Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”
APPL – Often, the root cause for striving with others is that in our hearts we are striving or wrestling with God.
Psalms 46:1-3, 8-11, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should
change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold.”
8 So Abram said to Lot, "Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. 9 Is not
the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left."
10 Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere-this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and
Gomorrah-like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. 11 So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot
journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other. 12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley,
and moved his tents as far as Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord.