Category Archives: Protector / Deliverer

In You, O LORD, I Have Taken Refuge

Wherever you are in your walk with the Lord today, there is no doubt in my mind that you (and everyone else) have personally experienced suffering in this world. You have found yourself at times feeling overwhelmed with how to deal with the problems and people that oppose you and try to do harm to you. Let us cry out to God in faith… seek refuge in Him… and never be ashamed of Him for He will deliver us.

Psalm 31

      1In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge;
Let me never be ashamed;
In Your righteousness deliver me.

      2Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly;
Be to me a rock of strength,
A stronghold to save me.

      3For You are my rock and my fortress;
For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.

      4You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me,
For You are my strength.

      5Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have ransomed me, O LORD, God of truth.

      6I hate those who regard vain idols,
But I trust in the LORD.

      7I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness,
Because You have seen my affliction;
You have known the troubles of my soul,

      8And You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy;
You have set my feet in a large place.

      9Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also.

      10For my life is spent with sorrow
And my years with sighing;
My strength has failed because of my iniquity,
And my body has wasted away.

      11Because of all my adversaries, I have become a reproach,
Especially to my neighbors,
And an object of dread to my acquaintances;
Those who see me in the street flee from me.

      12I am forgotten as a dead man, out of mind;
I am like a broken vessel.

      13For I have heard the slander of many,
Terror is on every side;
While they took counsel together against me,
They schemed to take away my life.

      14But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD,
I say, “You are my God.”

      15My times are in Your hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me.

      16Make Your face to shine upon Your servant;
Save me in Your lovingkindness.

      17Let me not be put to shame, O LORD, for I call upon You;
Let the wicked be put to shame, let them be silent in Sheol.

      18Let the lying lips be mute,
Which speak arrogantly against the righteous
With pride and contempt.

      19How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men!

      20You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man;
You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.

      21Blessed be the LORD,
For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city.

      22As for me, I said in my alarm,
“I am cut off from before Your eyes”;
Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications
When I cried to You.

      23O love the LORD, all you His godly ones!
The LORD preserves the faithful
And fully recompenses the proud doer.

      24Be strong and let your heart take courage,
All you who hope in the LORD.

The older I get, and the more difficulties I face… the more I find joy in reading, studying, and praying the Psalms. David truly strikes an important note in verses 7-8.

      7I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness,
Because You have seen my affliction;
You have known the troubles of my soul,

      8And You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy;

David rejoices and praises God for His lovingkindness even when his situation has not been resolved yet. David rejoices in that God has seen his affliction and knows what he is going through… that God sustains him through the difficulty.

This can be really difficult to do in our lives. Even in the midst of hard times, rejoice in God… rejoice in knowing that He is with us and understands what we face and that He can sustain us and deliver us.  What a powerful demonstration of faith to give glory to God while still in a difficult situation! I pray God would lead me to do the same as I encounter difficult situations in this fallen world. May I give Him praise and honor even as I lean on Him to sustain me through suffering and hardship.

What situations are you facing in your life  that you may find encouragement and joy in remembering that God is with you and understands what you are experiencing? He can sustain you and deliver you.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Trust In God Fearlessly, No Matter What You Face

When we put our trust in people, organizations, or things of this world we will most assuredly be let down. However, do not be downhearted! Rejoice that we can learn to put our full trust in God, no matter what situation or enemy we face. We can trust Him fearlessly.

Psalm 27

A Psalm of David.

1The LORD is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?

2When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.

3Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.

4One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD
And to meditate in His temple.

5For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.

6And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.

7Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.

8When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.”

9Do not hide Your face from me,
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not abandon me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation!

10For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
But the LORD will take me up.

11Teach me Your way, O LORD,
And lead me in a level path
Because of my foes.

12Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.

13I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

14Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD.

Developing a strong relationship with God, as David had, requires commitment to study scripture and pray on a consistent basis. We must seek Him in order to find Him. As we grow in our relationship with God, we will also learn to trust Him more and more no matter what we face. The outcome may or may not be what we ask for or expect, but we can trust God… knowing that He is in control and that we serve Him in this life and we can enjoy the hope of looking forward to spending eternity with Him after we die.

1The LORD is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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Obey God Rather Than Men

True followers of Jesus Christ have faced persecution since Jesus came to walk among us in His earthly ministry. In truth it may actually serve at times for an external measure of our personal testimony for Christ. If we claim to follow Christ but never suffer even the slightest bit of persecution or rejection from others there is likely one of two things happening. Either we have compromised the true message of the gospel and watered it down such that it no longer makes non believers uncomfortable or we are not proclaiming Jesus amongst non believers.

When Jesus and His disciples preached, people were moved in one direction or the other… there is no middle ground. You either accept Jesus and follow Him, changing your life to be more like His example, or you reject Him as God and probably get tired of hearing genuine Christians keep telling you about it.  Someone who hears the true gospel of Christ, that we go to hell and suffer for eternity because of our own sinful nature unless we submit to follow Christ, can not accept it as true and then continue to ignore it, changing nothing in their lives. If this message does not move you to change your life… you have not accepted it genuinely and wholeheartedly. You are just going through the motions, or “checking a box” on a checklist. Perhaps you are just following traditions of what your parents did before you… but this will not lead to salvation through Christ.

Because the message of Christ makes people uncomfortable, many will come against you when you live and share a life and message that truly reflects Jesus Christ and God’s revealed word in the Bible.  We must decide whom we shall obey… will we obey God or men. The disciples faced strong persecution over and over following the death of Christ. All but John ultimately died for their faith in Jesus. John was exiled to an island, Patmos. Acts 5:17-32 shows one such example of persecution and how the disciples reacted to it.

Imprisonment and Release

      17But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. 18They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail. 19But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, 20“Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” 21Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest and his associates came, they called the Council together, even all the Senate of the sons of Israel, and sent orders to the prison house for them to be brought. 22But the officers who came did not find them in the prison; and they returned and reported back, 23saying, “We found the prison house locked quite securely and the guards standing at the doors; but when we had opened up, we found no one inside.” 24Now when the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them as to what would come of this. 25But someone came and reported to them, “The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” 26Then the captain went along with the officers and proceeded to bring them back without violence (for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned).

      27When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, 28saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. 31“He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32“And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

What a powerful testimony! Imagine yourself in their place… arrested when you stood up to proclaim Jesus. Then God sets you free in a powerful way. How many of us would then run and hide? The disciples, filled with courage from the Holy Spirit, obeyed God and went to a public place where they could be easily found and preached the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

I pray God would prepare me to respond in a like manner as the disciples. I am convinced it requires the presence of the Holy Spirit. We must each pray for God’s help in this area so that we would proclaim the gospel boldly in all circumstances. We must also prepare through consistent, daily study of God’s word and prayer.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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The Lord Is My Shepherd

Psalm 23 is a beautiful commentary on our Lord and how He cares for us. We are sheep who need a good shepherd.

1The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

2He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.

3He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.

6Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

I find this Psalm brings me great peace in troubled times. I pray it comforts you as well. How glorious that we can trust completely in our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ!

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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Be Glad in God’s Strength and Rejoice in His Salvation!

King David praises God for deliverance in Psalm 21. David opens up by proclaiming how even a king is dependent on God for salvation and finds joy in this! So many powerful people try to find salvation in money or earthly power… only a righteous man recognizes submission to God and reliance on His power, even when he has the power of a king. How much greater is God’s power for those of us who have eyes to see and ears to hear!

     1O LORD, in Your strength the king will be glad,
And in Your salvation how greatly he will rejoice!

      2You have given him his heart’s desire,
And You have not withheld the request of his lips.

Selah.

      3For You meet him with the blessings of good things;
You set a crown of fine gold on his head.

      4He asked life of You,
You gave it to him,
Length of days forever and ever.

      5His glory is great through Your salvation,
Splendor and majesty You place upon him.

      6For You make him most blessed forever;
You make him joyful with gladness in Your presence.

      7For the king trusts in the LORD,
And through the lovingkindness of the Most High he will not be shaken.

      8Your hand will find out all your enemies;
Your right hand will find out those who hate you.

      9You will make them as a fiery oven in the time of your anger;
The LORD will swallow them up in His wrath,
And fire will devour them.

      10Their offspring You will destroy from the earth,
And their descendants from among the sons of men.

      11Though they intended evil against You
And devised a plot,
They will not succeed.

      12For You will make them turn their back;
You will aim with Your bowstrings at their faces.

      13Be exalted, O LORD, in Your strength;
We will sing and praise Your power.

 

David recognizes that even a king needs God. He is not deceived by worldly power to thinking that a king does not need God.

If this is true for a king in this world, than how much more so for the rest of us who have no such power or influence!

No matter what troubles or danger we face, God is sufficient to help us overcome it. We find true life and purpose in serving God. With God, we overcome death itself.

All we have in this world will be taken away from us… guaranteed. If not during our lives, then it is taken or lost when we die. We take nothing with us. Few things matter when we die…

  • Will we spend eternity in Heaven with God or in Hell, separated from God?
  • Have we lived for God and helped others to find genuine relationship with Him?
  • Will He tell us “Well done, good and faithful servant” or “Be gone, I knew you not”?

These are the questions that demand answers. God is gracious in that you have your entire life to prepare, but that opportunity ends when you die and few of us know when that will happen, so the matter is urgent.  Once you die it is too late to change the answers. All that is left is to accept the consequences… you will either have absolute joy or sorrow and suffering.

The good news is that each of us gets to choose! No one else chooses for us. The invitation is open to all.

God shows His love for us in this life and in the offer for eternal life through accepting Jesus as Lord. He became man, suffered, died, was buried and rose again so that we could be forgiven of the bad behaviors, thoughts, and actions in our lives and be reconciled to God. Have you turned away from your sin and asked God for forgiveness through Jesus Christ? Have you accepted Jesus as your savior?

Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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After Fervent Prayer, Jacob Proceeds Forth To Meet Esau

We continue with Jacob as he prepares to meet Esau with fear of Esau taking revenge for past deceptions by Jacob. Esau is coming with 400 men to meet Jacob. Jacob has put in place a plan to send representatives and gifts to Esau to find favor with him. Jacob prayed for God to help, wrestling with God and coming out faithful and devoted to serving and obeying God’s instructions regardless of his own personal fear or concern.

Genesis 33:1-20 reveals to us the outcome of Jacob’s obedience to God’s instruction on where Jacob should take his family. We can trust the promises of God and the instructions of God. Esau is not mad and actually offers to turn down the gifts offered by Jacob. Jacob receives a warm welcome. Esau actually offers to escort Jacob or leave men with him to escort him safely.

Jacob Meets Esau

      1Then Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. 2He put the maids and their children in front, and Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last. 3But he himself passed on ahead of them and bowed down to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.

      4Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. 5He lifted his eyes and saw the women and the children, and said, “Who are these with you?” So he said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” 6Then the maids came near with their children, and they bowed down. 7Leah likewise came near with her children, and they bowed down; and afterward Joseph came near with Rachel, and they bowed down. 8And he said, “What do you mean by all this company which I have met?” And he said, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.” 9But Esau said, “I have plenty, my brother; let what you have be your own.” 10Jacob said, “No, please, if now I have found favor in your sight, then take my present from my hand, for I see your face as one sees the face of God, and you have received me favorably. 11“Please take my gift which has been brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me and because I have plenty.” Thus he urged him and he took it.

      12Then Esau said, “Let us take our journey and go, and I will go before you.” 13But he said to him, “My lord knows that the children are frail and that the flocks and herds which are nursing are a care to me. And if they are driven hard one day, all the flocks will die. 14“Please let my lord pass on before his servant, and I will proceed at my leisure, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord at Seir.”

      15Esau said, “Please let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.” But he said, “What need is there? Let me find favor in the sight of my lord.” 16So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir. 17Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built for himself a house and made booths for his livestock; therefore the place is named Succoth.

Jacob Settles in Shechem

      18Now Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Paddan-aram, and camped before the city. 19He bought the piece of land where he had pitched his tent from the hand of the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money. 20Then he erected there an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.

After all the worry and a tough journey, I am sure Jacob must have felt relieved to find rest. There was no trouble with Esau. I believe that God was involved in that as well as Jacob through prayer and executing a plan to come before Esau humbly. Jacob trusted and obeyed God in faith and grew closer to Him along the way. Now we see Jacob erects an altar and names it El-Elohe-Israel, which means  mighty is the God of Israel. (God changed Jacob’s name to Israel in Genesis 32.) Jacob is taking time to give thanks and honor God for his successful journey away from Laban, through reconciliation with Esau, and leading Jacob and his family to a place of their own to settle peacefully.

Jacob now serves a good example for us in relationship with God. Out of a sinful beginning filled with deception, we continue to see evidence of Jacob’s growing relationship with God. He has come a long way since accepting God as his God on the way to Laban’s, 20 years ago. He continues to grow closer to God. Just accepting God on the way to Laban’s was only a gate, an entry, to a life submitted to God. It was not a one-time decision. He was not done when He accepted God as Lord… he was just getting started.

To follow in Jacob’s example, we must first realize that we are sinners, missing the mark in living for God or often outright rejecting Him all-together. God appeared to Jacob personally but God became man in the person of Jesus Christ, suffered and died for all of all of our sins… yours and mine and everyone else’s. He was resurrected and overcame death. He offers us each an invitation to receive forgiveness and reconciliation with God leading to eternal life. Repent, or turn away from, your sins and change your life to live according to God’s instructions. Ask forgiveness from God and submit to Jesus as Lord of your life. If you have never accepted Jesus as Lord, please do so today! It is urgent. None of us has tomorrow promised to us. Pray with us something like the following:

Pray genuinely with your heart because it is not about the specific words but the condition of the heart and submission to God.

Heavenly Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus Christ. I confess that Jesus is Lord. I believe in my heart that you raised Him from the dead. Come into my heart Jesus, and be Lord over my life. Thank you God for saving me.

This is not all there is! Just like we witness in the life of Jacob, this is but the beginning… the doorway. Once you pass through this doorway you submit your whole life to Christ. It requires a combination of Intellect (knowing God), Emotion (loving God and fearing God), and Will (choosing to do His will instead of our own). It is an ongoing decision in our lives that starts us on a journey to know God more intimately and to obey Him more completely. It requires study and prayer and action. It is a journey we never finish in this life, but it transforms us along the way to be more and more like Jesus Christ.

Reach out to others you know have already accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Tell them of your decision to follow Christ. Look to connect with a Christian mentor, local church or group of true Christian believers. Connecting with other Christians and publically declaring your decision to follow Christ can help provide important support from other believers to help you on your journey with Jesus Christ. Remember, many who reject Jesus will try to talk you out of submitting to Him and following Him. Pray God will guide you to and connect you with the fellowship of true brothers and sisters in Christ that will help you to continue your lifelong journey to know, love, and serve Jesus Christ!

We invite you to study the Bible with us daily through our devotions via email, FacebookGoogle Plus, or on our website Latest Devotions page.

If you have questions or want to know more, please Contact Us.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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May the Lord Answer You In the Day of Trouble

Psalm 20 provides an example of a righteous prayer for victory over enemies.

1May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high!

2May He send you help from the sanctuary
And support you from Zion!

3May He remember all your meal offerings
And find your burnt offering acceptable!

4May He grant you your heart’s desires
And fulfill all your counsel!

5We will sing for joy over your victory,
And in the name of our God we will set up our banners.
May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.

6Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed;
He will answer him from His holy heaven
With the saving strength of His right hand.

7Some boast in chariots and some in horses,
But we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God.

8They have bowed down and fallen,
But we have risen and stood upright.

9Save, O Lord;
May the King answer us in the day we call.

Surely all of us have times in our lives when we are facing enemies. They may sometimes be other people who want to come against us personally, or perhaps people who dislike or persecute all Christians, and we must always remain prepared as we face our greatest enemy, Satan.

David consistently calls for joy while he prays for God’s help. He highlights victory as if it has already been achieved. It is not that God has already answered… it is because David trusts God completely. Even while he still experiences the difficult situations and still faces the enemy, David knows that God will answer.

When we come before God is prayer, asking humbly His help, let us remember to rejoice in knowing our loving Creator is in control and He hears our voice. As with David, as we petition God, let us also realize that He will answer. It may not always be how we expect, or when we expect,  but God will hear and answer righteous prayer.

To learn more about righteous prayer, study our teaching Learning to Pray Effectively.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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Afraid and Distressed, Jacob Turns Humbly to God

In Genesis 32:1-23 we continue on our journey with Jacob as he grows in relationship and trust with God. He is obeying God’s direction to return home, trusting in God despite his fear of Esau, who had been plotting to kill Jacob a long time ago when Jacob left.

      1Now as Jacob went on his way, the angels of God met him. 2Jacob said when he saw them, “This is God’s camp.” So he named that place Mahanaim.

      3Then Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4He also commanded them saying, “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: ‘Thus says your servant Jacob, “I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed until now; 5I have oxen and donkeys and flocks and male and female servants; and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favor in your sight.”’”

      6The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and furthermore he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” 7Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and the herds and the camels, into two companies; 8for he said, “If Esau comes to the one company and attacks it, then the company which is left will escape.”

      9Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,’ 10I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which You have shown to Your servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies. 11“Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children. 12“For You said, ‘I will surely prosper you and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which is too great to be numbered.’”

      13So he spent the night there. Then he selected from what he had with him a present for his brother Esau: 14two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15thirty milking camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16He delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass on before me, and put a space between droves.” 17He commanded the one in front, saying, “When my brother Esau meets you and asks you, saying, ‘To whom do you belong, and where are you going, and to whom do these animals in front of you belong?’ 18then you shall say, ‘These belong to your servant Jacob; it is a present sent to my lord Esau. And behold, he also is behind us.’” 19Then he commanded also the second and the third, and all those who followed the droves, saying, “After this manner you shall speak to Esau when you find him; 20and you shall say, ‘Behold, your servant Jacob also is behind us.’” For he said, “I will appease him with the present that goes before me. Then afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me.” 21So the present passed on before him, while he himself spent that night in the camp.

      22Now he arose that same night and took his two wives and his two maids and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23He took them and sent them across the stream. And he sent across whatever he had.

How wonderful that God sent angels to encourage Jacob. That must have been quite some boost to his spirit… and he may have needed that reassurance from God when he heard that Esau was coming with 400 men to meet him. Surely Jacob remembered that Esau was plotting to kill him when he left, many years ago. They were not on good terms. Jacob clearly splits his group into multiple groups anticipating this possibility. He also puts in place a diplomatic strategy to help his relations with Esau… sending messengers, and gifts ahead of him, declaring he is Esau’s servant.

However, the most important part of the strategy for a righteous person is the prayer. Jacob, in his time of great anxiety, comes humbly before God with praise and thanksgiving, reminding himself of God’s promises and instruction, and asking God to protect him as he obeys God’s instruction to return home to a likely hostile and powerful brother. Jacob continues, faithful to God, despite his concerns.

We should take careful note that Jacob handles this situation as he did managing the flocks over the past 20 years. He comes humbly before God, asking help and protection and listening for instruction… obeying what God commands. Then he combines that with hard work, good strategy, and his own best efforts. He is not lazy, simply putting God to the test and saying God will take care of it all. Rather, Jacob prays for God to act and then does his own personal best to address the situation, trusting God to support Him.

We should model our own walk with God after this pattern. We should absolutely rely on God but also put forth our own hard work and good planning to accomplish what He tells us to do. We should do our part and trust God to bless it.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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The Covenant At Mizpah

In Genesis 31, Jacob has taken his family and belongings and left his uncle Laban secretly. Laban was angry and chased Jacob, but heard from God prior to catching up to Jacob. After some heated exchange between Laban and Jacob, we pick up our reading through Genesis with Genesis 31:43-55. Laban and Jacob come to a peaceful settling of their differences. God was behind it all, speaking to each of them separately and continuing to keep His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by guiding and caring for Jacob. Jacob also continues to submit to and honor God.

43Then Laban replied to Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters, and the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine. But what can I do this day to these my daughters or to their children whom they have borne? 44“So now come, let us make a covenant, you and I, and let it be a witness between you and me.” 45Then Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. 46Jacob said to his kinsmen, “Gather stones.” So they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there by the heap. 47Now Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed. 48Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me this day.” Therefore it was named Galeed, 49and Mizpah, for he said, “May the LORD watch between you and me when we are absent one from the other. 50“If you mistreat my daughters, or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no man is with us, see, God is witness between you and me.” 51Laban said to Jacob, “Behold this heap and behold the pillar which I have set between you and me. 52“This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass by this heap to you for harm, and you will not pass by this heap and this pillar to me, for harm. 53“The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.” So Jacob swore by the fear of his father Isaac. 54Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, and called his kinsmen to the meal; and they ate the meal and spent the night on the mountain. 55Early in the morning Laban arose, and kissed his sons and his daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned to his place.

We can trust God to keep His promises! God made promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and He acts in order to keep them. Genesis 31 is one example of this as God delivers Jacob safely from Laban’s anger and pursuit. Jacob was not perfect. Jacob made many mistakes in leading his family for God, but Jacob was submitting to God and God honors that submission. God continued to bless and protect Jacob over 20 years of living with Laban and delivered him safely out of that part of his life with much wealth and family.

That does not mean that Jacob had an easy time…quite the opposite, he was still living with the consequences within his family for mistakes he made and he still had to deal with Laban’s efforts to cheat him and he was in this difficult situation for 20 years. But, God kept His promises in His way and His timing.

Similarly, we can trust in the promises of God in our lives, even when we can not see God working. Each of us should seek always to be growing closer to God through prayer and study of scripture. We start with accepting the offer of reconciliation with God for our sins that is offered through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

If you have not yet made the decision to make Jesus Christ your Lord and savior, or if you want to recommit yourself to Christ… I encourage you to do so today, right now. (Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.) Once you have made this decision, do not get complacent… for this is but the gateway to begin your lifelong journey as a follower of Jesus!

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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Laban Pursues Jacob

Genesis 31:22-42 continues after Jacob has fled Laban in secret earlier in Genesis 31, taking His family and livestock with Him. Rachel, stole from her father the household idols to bring with her. When Laban realizes Jacob has left, he pursues him with anger. But God is with Jacob and comes to Laban in a dream to protect Jacob.

      22When it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob had fled, 23then he took his kinsmen with him and pursued him a distance of seven days’ journey, and he overtook him in the hill country of Gilead. 24God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream of the night and said to him, “Be careful that you do not speak to Jacob either good or bad.”

      25Laban caught up with Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban with his kinsmen camped in the hill country of Gilead. 26Then Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done by deceiving me and carrying away my daughters like captives of the sword? 27“Why did you flee secretly and deceive me, and did not tell me so that I might have sent you away with joy and with songs, with timbrel and with lyre; 28and did not allow me to kiss my sons and my daughters? Now you have done foolishly. 29“It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful not to speak either good or bad to Jacob.’ 30“Now you have indeed gone away because you longed greatly for your father’s house; but why did you steal my gods?” 31Then Jacob replied to Laban, “Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force. 32“The one with whom you find your gods shall not live; in the presence of our kinsmen point out what is yours among my belongings and take it for yourself.” For Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.

      33So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and into Leah’s tent and into the tent of the two maids, but he did not find them. Then he went out of Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s tent. 34Now Rachel had taken the household idols and put them in the camel’s saddle, and she sat on them. And Laban felt through all the tent but did not find them. 35She said to her father, “Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise before you, for the manner of women is upon me.” So he searched but did not find the household idols.

      36Then Jacob became angry and contended with Laban; and Jacob said to Laban, “What is my transgression? What is my sin that you have hotly pursued me? 37“Though you have felt through all my goods, what have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my kinsmen and your kinsmen, that they may decide between us two. 38“These twenty years I have been with you; your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten the rams of your flocks. 39“That which was torn of beasts I did not bring to you; I bore the loss of it myself. You required it of my hand whether stolen by day or stolen by night. 40Thus I was: by day the heat consumed me and the frost by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes. 41“These twenty years I have been in your house; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flock, and you changed my wages ten times. 42“If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had not been for me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and the toil of my hands, so He rendered judgment last night.”

Perhaps one of the first things to note, is that God is perfectly able to communicate through non believers, such as Laban. He appears to Laban in a dream in order to protect Jacob. We know Laban was not a man of God by his behaviors such as deceiving Jacob and then trying to cheat him by changing his agreed wages repeatedly… and of course by the fact that Laban clutches tightly to his household  idols.  Additionally, Laban refers to God as the God of Jacob’s father, not his own God or even just “God”.

We see, also, that though Laban is quick to deceive others, he does not like to be deceived. This is typical hypocritical behavior for those who are focused on themselves rather than fundamental principles or truths of right and wrong. Every situation is interpreted not against God’s holy standard, but rather against the flawed view of “How does it affect me?” Godly people are called to be different from this behavior, measuring right and wrong against God’s holy standard revealed in scripture.

As a man continuing on his walk toward righteousness, Jacob strongly agrees that  whomever stole from Laban should be punished. Jacob wanted nothing to do with the idols anyway as they are detestable to God. Jacob did not make excuses when confronted by Laban. He clearly stated why he left  secretly and made no excuse for someone stealing.

Rachel, clutching to idols instead of God or even husband, comes up with clever deception to avoid being caught at this time. A family raised by deceitful and wicked parents becomes quite good at being wicked. This type of cleverness is not to be admired.

Having given Laban time to look for his idols, Jacob then rebukes Laban for chasing him and for several other ways in which Laban has wrongly treated Jacob. Jacob highlights that his service has been righteous and honorable even when Laban was not. Both Jacob and Laban prospered from it. Best of all, Jacob honors God by recognizing and proclaiming His role in protecting Jacob and his family in this difficult twenty years.

For those of us today, who are going through difficult family situations or even situations in life not related to family specifically, keep in mind that God can be with you even in tough situations. He never promises to protect you from suffering and make life easy. Quite the contrary, those who serve Him the most often have quite difficult lives with a  lot of earthly pain and suffering, but still find joy in the Lord and in the hope of what is to come after death.

When you find yourself in difficult times, it is then that you must draw nearer to Him, not pull away. Seek Him more earnestly both in study of scripture and in prayer. Change your ways from the path of sin to the path of righteous obedience and submission to God. Do not just look for a “quick fix” to your situation. Trust God. Ask Him for help. God is able to provide and protect according to His will.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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