Shaken Faith

Genesis 12:10-20

10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”

14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. 15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.

17 But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” 20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.

Exams

Have you heard someone said, “Before I became Christian, I had lesser problems!” A number of church attendees assumed that they have more problems after they put their trust in the Lord Jesus. It only demonstrates that believers would frequently encounter spiritual battles.

We certainly face challenges increasingly to greater degrees for us to grow stronger in our faith in the Lord and deeper in our knowledge of His grace, love and faithfulness. Problems are kind of spiritual exams to help us evaluate the level of our spiritual maturity. Do you enjoy exams?

Educational system has progressive standards. Students have to pass one level then to the next level of education. As education level rises, exams become more difficult. In elementary, exams are basic. In college, exams are more complicated and elementary pupils are not given college exams.

Similarly, new believers may face basic test of faith. As spirituality matures, test of faith becomes much more complicated. It’s by faith we believe that when God allows challenges, it’s for our betterment.

Learning about God and His ways is endless experience. Until eternity, it will be an unending discovery about His eternal grace, love and wonders.

Just as exams are given according their educational level of students, God has prepared series of events, challenges, and adventures suitable to the level of our spiritual maturity. Basic test of faith: Will God supply our needs?

1. Supply

10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 

Food supply is the most basic and elementary test of spiritual maturity. God knows that food supply is a necessity to survive. Abram’s faith was tested when there was famine in Canaan. He’s concerned with food supply.

God promised the land of Canaan as inheritance to Abram’s offspring yet it was not very promising, ey? Abram might not have experienced hunger before. He might have been scared. So he went down to Egypt. His faith was shaken. The story did not mention if Abram ask God for such decision.

Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.NKJV

Did Abram trust in the Lord? Was he shaken in his faith? Possibly!

But wait! If Abram had fully trusted God, he trusted that his decision was right. God might even give him the idea to go to Egypt for a while. On the contrary, his faith might have been shaken. Can we accept that at early stage of our walk with Christ, our faith was easily shaken like Abram?

Abram had accumulated wealth and acquired servants but in Canaan, there was scarcity of food. Hunger could drive Abram’s servants to escape.

Abram had to find food to feed themselves and his servants. At very old age, it would be very difficult life for Abram and his wife without help. So, going down to Egypt was just a practical decision that Abram made.

Did Abram not trust God to supply their needs in time of famine? Did he trust God to provide for their need in Egypt?

Are we not like Abram most of the time? When we face difficulties, and struggles with sustenance, we are shaken in our faith in God like Abram.

Abram explored and saw that Canaanites were in the land. He might have wondered how his descendants may take over the Promised Land from the Canaanites. Did God send famine so that the Canaanites would have vacated the Promised Land naturally without using force?

Recession

Have you experienced severe hunger in your lifetime? Have you struggle with the impact of recession in this country? Recession or no recession, minimum wage is not enough to pay bills. The Lord commanded in Jeremiah 29:7, 7Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

Do you believe that the Lord brought you to settle in this city? If so then, God’s command to pray for this city is for you. Pray diligently for more investors to come and wisdom for law enforcers to maintain peace.

It teaches us 1 Timothy 6:10, 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

It is very practical desire to aspire for higher salary to pay the bills, support family needs but when one loves money, he punished himself with many griefs, the Bible says. How do we know if one loves money or not?

In Hebrews 13:5, Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Love of money invites more money-related griefs like: disagreement with employer regarding salary or benefits, envy of co-worker or relatives, prideful spirit of having more material gains than others or feeling entitled.

But when there’s contentment with what one has, there’s freedom from the love of money. Contentment with what one has gives assurance that God will never leave nor forsake that contented person.

Does it mean that the passage “God will never leave nor forsake you,” is applicable only to believers who are contented with what they have?

Keeping our lives free from the love of money and to be content with what we have are godly commands. Godly commands require godly effort.

Like Abram, we can be shaken in our faith but we also want to prepare for the future. That is a practical reason why many want to earn more and not necessarily love of money. It says in Proverbs 13:11, 11Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.

To have instant wealth is very tempting but to have financial wisdom is more beneficial way of lifestyle. Pray for wisdom on how you may be able to make your money grow, how you may invest, or save more.

It is very necessary to prepare for personal retirement and family needs. Do you believe that God has sustained you through all those years of your life? Will God supply the needs of our family or even in our old age?

Because of famine, Abram was shaken in his faith and went down to Egypt. And he was tested again. Previously, Abram didn’t mind about being treated well but when they went down to Egypt, he worried about safety.

2. Safety

11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”

Abram worried about food supply and not safety during famine. Right before they entered Egypt, Abram wished to be treated well.

Abram was worried about his safety. He instructed Sarai what to say. Did Abram prayed about such decision? Did God give the idea to instruct Sarai to say that they were siblings and not tell others that she was his wife?

It teaches in Proverbs 9:10, 10The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

If ever Abram was shaken in his faith and went down to Egypt, it was not mentioned if he asked God for forgiveness or not. We may interpret that God continued to guide Abram in his decisions, even the idea of going down to Egypt and for Sarai to tell others that she was his sister.

God understands it very well when we are shaken in our faith. Shaking of faith may help us grow deeper in our faith in the Lord.

God promised to bless Abram. He’d been very faithful to His promise.

14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. 15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.

Indeed, Abram was treated well because of Sarai. Abram was blessed materially. Would that prove that his decision to go to Egypt and instruction for Sarai to tell only half-truth about their relationship were sanctioned or approved by God? Are material blessings exhibits of God’s faithfulness?

In Romans 8:28, 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Abram may have been shaken in his faith during famine. He may have been shaken in his faith when he was frightened about his safety in Egypt.

In those circumstances, God was faithful to His promises. Others may or may not agree with our decisions. Difficult or favorable situations, the Lord allows them to happen for His good and great purposes.

Winnipeg: Most Unsafe City

What do you think is the most unsafe city in Canada?

Winnipeg maintains its reputation as the most unsafe city in Canada.

That’s the conclusion of a survey published online. Canadians were asked about their perception of safety in cities across the country. For the 2nd year in a row, among 15 urban centres in Canada, 55% respondents viewed Winnipeg as unsafe. Just 37% of respondents say they consider the city safe.

But despite of the survey result, Winnipeg police say that a probability of becoming a victim of crime is relatively low.

In practicality, we choose where we live because we feel safe. Is there a community in this city where there’s no criminal activity? Pray for peace.

Both food supply and safety are necessities that God may use to test our faith. God allows us to have personal concern in life to trust Him more.

It teaches in 1 Chronicles 4:10, 10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.

Jabez might have tried all possible means but he still felt the pain of being poor and needy. Needs drove Jabez to concede that only God can bless him. In the Bible, God prescribed how to receive His blessings.

Abram might have prayed also for blessing when God sent famine to test his faith. Many believers would agree that it was God blessing when Pharaoh treated Abram well. When Pharaoh scrutinized Abram for keeping it secret—his true relationship with Sarai, his faith was tested again.

3. Scrutiny

17 But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” 20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.

Abram put Sarai in danger for the sake of his personal safety but God keep her safe. Sarai was a significant part of God’s plan. When Pharaoh took Sarai to be his wife, it sure made Abram’s life miserable. Curse is meant to make one’s life miserable. God promised to curse those who curse Abram.

God was faithful to his promise to curse those who curse Abram. Those who make Abram’s life miserable, God would make their life miserable. God inflicted serious disease on Pharaoh and his household because he made Abram’s life miserable when he took Sarai from Abram.

When Pharaoh scrutinized Abram’s intention, he remained quiet. He let Pharaoh expressed his frustration. Did God put fear in Pharaoh’s heart so as not to punish them when he instructed Sarai not to tell that she’s his wife?

God would cause fear of Him in favor of His faithful servants.

King Jehoshaphat

In 2 Chronicles 17:3-13, The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the ways of his father David before him. He did not consult the Baals but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel. The Lord established the kingdom under his control; and all Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so that he had great wealth and honor. His heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord; furthermore, he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah.

In the third year of his reign he sent his officials Ben-Hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel and Micaiah to teach in the towns of Judah. With them were certain Levites—Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah and Tob-Adonijah—and the priests Elishama and Jehoram. They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the Book of the Law of the Lord; they went around to all the towns of Judah and taught the people.

10 The fear of the Lord fell on all the kingdoms of the lands surrounding Judah, so that they did not go to war against Jehoshaphat. 11 Some Philistines brought Jehoshaphat gifts and silver as tribute, and the Arabs brought him flocks: seven thousand seven hundred rams and seven thousand seven hundred goats.

12 Jehoshaphat became more and more powerful; he built forts and store cities in Judah 13 and had large supplies in the towns of Judah. He also kept experienced fighting men in Jerusalem.

Different kings in different generations reigned in Judah. Kings who were devoted to the Lord experienced peaceful life. Peace in the midst of problems exhibits God’s grace at work. In Psalm 20:7, 7Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

What are chariots and horses in our context?

Do you pray before calling 911 or buying your groceries?

Abram’s faith was shaken when he was in need of food supply during famine and in need of safety in Egypt. When he was treated well, acquired more wealth in Egypt, and his wife Sarai was returned to him, he might have been reminded of God’s faithfulness so that when Pharaoh scrutinized him, Abram remained quiet and trusted God of what pharaoh would do.

When His time comes, Christ may scrutinize us. In Matthew 25:21, 21 ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Scrutinize your lifestyle now. Have you been faithful serving the Lord?

Pray that God would give you growth in your faith like Abram had.

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