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And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left. (Genesis 13:6~9)
The Most Beautiful Scene
I saw God working in my life many times. We bought a chapel in Daegu when I was ministering there. We only had a few brothers and sisters, but they put all of their hearts into the purchase and we rejoiced when we bought the chapel. That chapel had a little room where my family could stay. We liked the chapel so much that we lived without feeling the discomforts of having a small parsonage. However, one day the brothers and sisters discussed amongst themselves and said, “Let’s prepare a house for Pastor.” I felt burdened and tried to stop them. “Our church is becoming better off by the day, and do you think I could live in such a house as this in the future even if I wanted to? I believe there will be plenty of opportunities for me to live in good homes. The congregation has spent much money to buy the chapel, and there are many people in debt. Let’s wait to see what happens.” But the brothers and sisters said, “Pastor, you always say, ‘Faith, faith,’ but why don’t you want to do it by faith this time?” They gave another commitment offering to prepare a home for me and found one. One weekend, I was on my way home after a week-long Bible conference, but it was the day we were moving into the new house. I opened the gates and stood in the yard for a long while, unable to enter. In the kitchen were the young married sisters making food. There were elderly sisters trimming vegetables on the patio. The sisters of the youth in our church were cleaning the rooms. The brothers were carrying various things they had bought. I had never seen such a beautiful and happy scene. They had given all their money to buy the house, but they were so joyful. It was such a beautiful scene to me. It made me think. Had I felt uncomfortable staying at the room that came with the chapel and said, “Hey, Brother Kim, what do you think of the parsonage?” or provoked some brothers and sisters to find a home for me, would they be this joyful? Would they rejoice? Probably not. It is so graceful because God wants to give me the parsonage! A while ago, a new chapel was built in Gumi at a church that belonged to our mission and they built a beautiful parsonage. When I visited the church, the pastor of the church asked me, “Pastor, is it okay to have a parsonage like this?” I answered this pastor, who is a disciple of mine, “I, too, live a life that is beyond me, and I enjoy what God has given me. The important thing is that it is not a problem if you are with God even if you live in a palace. But if you live with a high heart even though you are poor, that is a problem. So, live peacefully at this parsonage.” I saw that God was helping and protecting my life. Because I am a pastor, I do not live through making money at a job, but I live through the congregation. I have never once felt uncomfortable with living this way. It is because I always saw that God knew beforehand and was preparing for me when I faced difficulties. Whenever I feel that I am lacking, I have the heart, “God is giving this to me,” and I am at peace and thankful.
For Me to Be Happy
There are many joys God has given me. One of them is that although I am a man with a terrible personality, there are always great people around me. I am so happy because of the people around me because they truly give me peace: the pastors of our church, the elders, the deacons, etc. A long time ago, shortly after I was married, I came home with a very joyful heart, but my wife was feeling completely down. Before I was married, I was happy even if she was feeling down, but after becoming a couple, I, too, would become down when my wife was down. After becoming married, my wife’s sadness became my sadness and my wife’s joy became my joy. I came to know, “I am not happy just because I feel happy. I can be happy when my wife is happy as well!” Thus, I prayed, “God, make my wife happy.” However, it was not only my wife that had to be happy, but my son, my daughter, the pastors of our churches, the elders, the deacons . . . . They all had to be happy for me to be happy. I came to know that God blessing the people around me one by one was actually God blessing me. I did not try to establish our church or try to have the brothers and sisters become better off, but I saw that there were so many works God did for me.
The More You Experience God
The day we moved into the new house, I thought that it was so beautiful because God gave us the house. If I tried to make this happen with my humanistic methods, it would not be so beautiful. From then on, I waited for God to work no matter what I faced. I was filled with happiness waiting for God. Sometimes, I would wait an entire month, and sometimes I would wait for a year, but I had happiness putting hope in God. God had blessed the things that belonged to me, one by one, and in every corner of my life there were testimonies of the works of God: how God helped me in difficulties, how God filled me with the things I needed…. A long time ago, I thought I was doing well because I had done many things, but I came to see how useless those things were as I lived inside of Jesus.
I often think to myself. When I am leading my family as opposed to God leading them, when I am working for the church as opposed to God working, or when I am preparing for my future as opposed to God preparing for it, what I do cannot compare. The more I experience God, the more pitiful and small my methods become, which I thought to be great. Now, even though I may have some plans, I have the heart, “No, I cannot go by this plan. I must do it by the heart of God. It is failure if I do it with this heart. It must be done through the heart of God.” I am originally a person without faith, but when I learn faith through God leading me inside the life of faith, it is amazing to see the things I do disappear more and more while the things God does appears one by one. Before, I only could see what I’ve done and barely see what God has done.
Lot, However . . .
Abraham must have gone through much pain during the night he went to Egypt and lost his wife! If he were a strong man, perhaps he could fight for her, but it was the Pharaoh of Egypt that took his wife, and he would be killed if he even resisted. He had no other way. Abraham could only seek God. Before this, he thought his methods were good, and he thought he could do well. However, he reached his limits in this situation. There was nothing more he could do. It was just like the time Moses’ parents kept Moses hidden for three months but could no longer hide him and placed the child in a river. Abraham realized that his methods were useless. He deceived people into thinking that his wife was his sister, and all his other methods were useless. When he had many methods of his own, his prayers to God were simply out of formality. He could not say a prayer truly from his heart. However, he was able to pray to God in his heart when he had no other methods of his own. Soon afterwards, God worked upon Pharaoh and allowed his wife to be returned. Then God became established in Abraham’s heart. He had many methods and ways of man and no word of God in his heart when he was entering Egypt, but now all of his methods died and only God was established. His nephew Lot also went to Egypt when Abraham went. They both entered Egypt, but Lot did not go through pain. Abraham and Lot went to Egypt with the same heart, but were leaving with different hearts. Lot still had his humanistic methods and ways, but Abraham knew truly how useless those things were. Afterwards, they had many sheep and cows, but only a small place to stay and there was strife. Abraham said, “Let us not fight against one another. Let not you and I, and your shepherds and my shepherds fight. If you will take the right hand, I will go to the left, and if you will go to the left, I will take the right. You choose first.” Lot only had humanistic methods, and chose the place that looked good to his eyes. He chose the plains of Jordan, which were the plain lands where Sodom and Gomorrah were. It was true that it would be difficult for Abraham to feed his sheep if he enters the woods, but with the promise of God, Abraham chose the plains of Mamre which were on the other side of the plains of Jordan.
The Blessings that Came as Soon as Lot Left
The interesting thing about the Bible is, in Genesis chapter 13, verses 14 and 15, it says, And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward. For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. God was blessing Abraham because Lot left him. God could not bless Abraham because Lot was there although He wanted to bless him. Because the blessing would then also become Lot’s as well, God waited until Lot left. This is talking about the world of our heart. It is not that God does not want to bless us. What kind of a father does not want his children to do well? God feels the same way. God is happy when you are happy. It pleases Him that you are doing well, and He is satisfied when you are holy. It is not God’s true heart to leave you in pain and suffering. God wants to bless us. He wants to protect us. However, Lot did not have God as the king of his heart, and was nurturing the desires and ambitions of the flesh in his heart. Thus, when he would be blessed, he would use those blessings to nurture his desires and ambitions. The more he would build his own world and be blessed, the more he would become distant from God. Ultimately, you have no choice but to kneel down before Him. The more such a person is blessed, the more he becomes distant from God. Therefore, God cannot bestow His blessings in such a state. After Lot left Abraham, God said to Abraham, “I will give this land to you and your seed. I will make your children like the dust of the earth,” and gave him many blessings.
Ambition Summons Curse
As a pastor, when I counsel people who are experiencing problems and difficulties, I can see, “This person is continually trying to do something for himself, but is calling a curse upon himself. He is summoning a plague.” For a while after salvation, I too, wanted to become a great pastor, an able person, and a great person. I had many ambitions and methods of my own. But after some time passed, when I looked back upon my life, it seemed that everything I did that appeared to have gone well and gone successfully ultimately failed. I, like Abraham, was able to precisely feel this. On the other hand, when I thought, “Now I am in trouble! Now it’s over!” and looked to the Lord, I have not failed once. Afterwards, I knew, “In the beginning, it seems that my plans are going well, but all thoughts that come from man ultimately go against God and ruin man!” Therefore, I could not follow my thoughts even though many of them often arose. I knew clearly, “I will fail if I follow those thoughts. I will be ruined.”
People Who Walk Lot’s Path
When Abraham said, “I will go right if you go left, and I will go left if you go right,” Lot, as a shepherd, felt that the plains of Jordan had good pastures, good water, and it was really the best. Lot moved to the plains of Jordan and entered the city of Sodom and Gomorrah. But as soon as he entered, there was a war in that city, and Lot lost all of his wealth and was captured along with his family. Abraham heard about this and came and saved his family. It seemed that the path of Lot would be a successful and beautiful one but Lot ultimately lost his wife when Sodom and Gomorrah was being destroyed with fire and sulfur. He could not keep any of his loving possessions and was left empty-handed. Later on, he was in a pitiful state living in a cave. We become deceived by Satan and it seems that we will be ruined if we live with the faith to believe in God, and that we will do well if we go about with our own methods. We fall into this illusion and always live with our own methods. Lot’s end was being ruined when he followed his own way, but there are many people who do not realize this and die a spiritual death. This is the reason behind people failing over and over again when it seems that they will do well. At first, it seems that there is plenty of food in the luscious pastures, but the results of following the ambitions of man is failure, curse, and destruction. There is no perfect way other than the way of God. As I see Lot, as I see Abraham, and as I see my own life, I can precisely realize in my heart that everything I did by my humanistic ways completely failed. But even after coming to know that fact precisely, the thoughts of man still often arise in my mind as I face different situations. “I should handle this like this, and handle that like that.” But on one side of my heart I think, “If I do this, I will fail.” And I cannot proceed with that method. Then I can only rely on the Lord, and while doing this, the Lord takes charge of everything in my life, and I can live a blessed life, ten out of ten, and a hundred out of a hundred. When I used to give sermons at church, I’d say, “Throw your thoughts away. Do not believe in yourself,” because I have experienced the Bible in my life. But people take these words lightly. There are many people who think, “How can I live without believing in myself? Only fools like him believe in Jesus. All of this is useless to me because I am smart!” However, when time passes, we see that they are following the path of Lot.
To the Faith to Believe in God
There is only one true, perfect path of faith. That is why I have left everything of my life in the hands of God. Everything of my church and everything that will happen to me in my old age, I have left in God’s hands. There is no one who can do as well as God, and there is no one who can protect me as perfectly as Him. However, people think that they are better than God. Not only is this so in your life, but also in your faith. What you pray for and what God has you pray for completely differ. God promises Abraham a son, but Abraham could only manage to have Ishmael through a maid servant when he tried to have a son on his own. But he can have Isaac if God works. The difference between Isaac and Ishmael is immeasurable, is it not? Just as Abraham took the maid servant and had Ishmael because he wanted to have a child, we, too, are walking the foolish path of having fallen into our illusion–like thoughts that everything will go well if we do not throw our methods away and go with our own ways. After going to Egypt, Abraham realized how useless it was to follow his methods. Now he left all things not to his own methods, but in God’s hands. And he had true rest in his heart. I often say this. Spiritual life is not through your own effort. It is not through your own determination. True spiritual life is composed of “repentance” and “faith.” You have to have completely repented from yourself before you can believe in God. Repenting is not saying, “I stole something. I committed adultery. I lied,” and turning from a specific sin. It is saying, “I am by nature an evil man! I have no good in me, only filthiness!” and becoming freed from yourself. We receive the faith to believe in God after first denying our selves. Loving folks, believing God means not believing in yourselves; it is believing in Him. It is believing that God will bless you and bestow grace upon you. I hope that all of you will live the blessed life of living through true faith and believe in God.