“And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD” (Genesis 13:10).
Pay attention to the Bible’s record of what Lot was doing. He looked at the land with his eyes. He wasn’t looking for instruction, for guidance, for wisdom from the Lord. He saw what he wanted with his own eyes and he aggressively moved to take possession of what he wanted, what his flesh desired.
“It looks good to me. It’s almost like the Garden of Eden; it’s so beautiful, I’ll choose that.”
Lot was looking with his eyes at the situation rather than looking to God. Some of us get ourselves into so much trouble. If we could just know the end of the story, what God is going to do. He is calling us to avoid this or that, but when our eyes of flesh are enticed, we tend to move in that direction because we are not focused on Jesus.
So here’s the simple instruction on this type of passive faith. Faith has to keep its eyes on Jesus. Faith has to keep itself focused and centered on the Lord or it won’t have the discernment to know which way to go. It won’t know whether to go to the left or to the right.
Lot chose what we know as Sodom and Gomorrah. Many of you today have been making choices with your own eyes because something looks good to you. The temptations of the flesh are appealing to you and you are easily lured to go after those things. God is calling His people to avoid operating in a soulish realm of fleshly ambition but to move into a realm where your spirit is growing while your flesh is decreasing.
That’s called discipleship. It’s called maturing. It’s called walking in a growing faith with the Lord. He’s calling us to move into that place.
“Go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money: take that and give to them for Me and you” (Matthew 17:27, NKJV).
We understand that Jesus wanted to make sure they paid the temple tax. The question is, Why didn’t Jesus simply reach into His pocket and give Peter the coin? Why did He give him the elaborate instructions of going down to the sea, casting in a hook, and finding money in the mouth of the first fish that he pulled up? After all, if Jesus didn’t have the money in His pocket, He surely could have manufactured it there as much as He could in the mouth of a fish! What was the point of all that?
Here is what Jesus was teaching Peter, which is the same lesson He is trying to teach us today: “If you will deal with the little things now, I will open to you the way of supernatural faith and provision. I will open to you something that will bring honor to the name of God.”
Imagine Peter going down to the seashore and explaining to the people that God had instructed him to catch a fish because it had money in its mouth to pay the temple tax. The other fishermen would conclude, “This guy has lost it! He has been hanging around with this Teacher too much!” Yet, when Peter returned an hour later with the coin in his hand, he would be able to testify, “It was just as the Lord told me! I caught a fish, opened its mouth, and there was money in it—enough for me and Jesus to pay the tax.”
This is a picture of how when you and I make the choice to do right, we will find the supernatural provision that we need—provision to be honest, provision of joy, provision of comfort that we might have been trying to obtain elsewhere. And it all starts when we allow Jesus to go into the corners of the temple (that temple being you and me) and say to us, “I want to talk to you about something.” When Jesus was talking to Peter in the temple, Peter easily could have walked away and said, “Okay, I’m free, so I am not going to pay the temple tax.” Yet, thank God he didn’t, for Jesus was teaching him something about the supernatural.
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001.
In 1988, God called our ministry to go to New York City and start a church in Times Square. Leaving our comfortable Texas environment and coming to the city required a great step of obedience. We had no congregation, no building, and little money. The only thing God told us was, “Go, and I will be with you. I will bless you. I’ll be your reward.”
So we did go—and the Lord became a shield to us, giving us Himself year after year. Decades later, we have a growing, maturing, missions-minded congregation in the midst of Times Square that stands as a testimony to His miracle.
God’s Word abounds with special, specific promises for those who are called to step out in obedience. Here are just a few of those promises to carry with you to the throne of God. You can lay your life on the line by these:
We also have an ironclad promise that the Holy Ghost will be with us through all our steps of obedience and in our times of testing: “We are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him” (Acts 5:32).
If God is telling you to lay down something, step out and do it. The Bible clearly says that if you obey the Lord, He will give you the Holy Spirit to be your guide and your strength. He will provide you with everything you need to complete the act of obedience.
When God asks His servants to step out into the unknown, it is not a one-time event. It is a walk that is required our entire lifetime. Yet our obedience wins us a great reward: “The word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (Genesis 15:1).
God is making a glorious statement to us here: Those who obey Him—who step out not knowing what will happen to them, yet blindly trusting in His Word—will never be outside of His protection. He says, “I will hover over them as a shield. And I will be their reward. I’ll give Myself to them.” “For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favor wilt thou compass him as with a shield” (Psalm 5:12).
A former member of our church, an acclaimed actress, was asked by God to give up show business completely as an act of obedience to Him. She knew in her heart the Lord was telling her to leave it all behind. So she set aside a best supporting actress award and stepped out into the great unknown. She had no job or guarantees of work of any kind; she went out not knowing where she was going.
The very next day her agent called to tell her she had been offered a starring role in a movie with three of the best-known actors in the business. After she hung up, she said, “No, Satan, I know what you’re trying to do. I won’t change my mind.”
Beloved, that’s the way it is going to be for many. Whenever you step out in faithful obedience, the devil will bring some enticement to draw you back to the side of disobedience. Obedience will always cost you something!
That same week, the actress went to court and won a great victory in a child custody battle. Her shield was working for her! She had won Christ, and her reward had been the Lord Himself.
God demanded an incredible act of obedience of Abraham: He asked him to step out into an unknown future. Abraham was able to take this step with nothing more tangible than this promise from God: “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee” (Genesis 12:1).
The writer of Hebrews says, “Abraham, when he was called to go out . . . obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went” (Hebrews 11:8). The Lord didn’t lay out before Abraham a neat, detailed travel plan. Instead, he said simply, “Gather your family, pack up your belongings, leave your kin, and go to a place I will tell you about.”
At seventy-five years of age, Abraham was asked to cast himself fully upon God’s faithfulness. He was given no explanation or warning of the possible dangers involved. And so Abraham went out—not knowing. All he had to rest upon was this promise: “I will show you. And I will bless you.”
His wife, Sarah, probably was no different from any modern-day woman. She may have asked the questions any wife would ask: “Are we going south or north? What kind of clothes should I pack? Will we settle down or stay on the move?” All Abraham could answer was, “God said to go, so we’re going. He’ll show us the next step, as soon as we get moving.”
We sometimes think that when God commands us to do something and we obey, everything will be smooth sailing. We think He’ll be grateful for our obedience so He will place us on a four-lane freeway to blessing. Abraham obeyed God’s Word, but the fact is, one act of obedience doesn’t add up to a walk of obedience.
Abraham had a promise from God, but along the way he had to go through the Negev desert, over snow-covered mountains, through another desert, and past the warring people of Canaan. Then he ended up in the midst of a famine in Egypt. I’m glad God didn’t tell Abraham about the path he would be walking!
This particular path was like no other Abraham had walked. Yet, through it all, he was never in any danger. Nobody could touch him. God was his shield and protector every day. And because of his faith, Abraham was becoming a friend to God.