Homecoming–Genesis 32 Part 1

What an amazing start to a chapter–“Jacob also went his way and the angels of God met him–God was pretty open about his support of Jacob, and yet when he heard his brother was coming with 400 men to meet him, he was instantly put into great fear and distress and took control of the situation…hmmm.  One would ask, how could Jacob spin immediately into fear and distress when he is literally camping with angels? The truth is–we are all simply moments away from doubt and fear in our walks with God.

Faith is a moment by moment decision that requires ongoing prayer and time with God.  We cannot only occasionally meet up with God and still expect to trust him without fail. And even when we are close, we can still waiver in our faith when our fear extends beyond ourselves and to our family and our friends. 

In the times of great testing, we will make our own plans…it is inevitable.  We, can however stop and seek God’s direction, reenlist his leadership and walk humbly with him anyway. God cannot make himself more apparent to us–He is Lord! It remains our choice to continue to trust him, moment by moment! Even if we slide away for a moment, we can look at the pillars of faith in our lives and start again–God does not mind, he is already set to start again.

God Bless You

Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him. When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is the camp of God!” So he named that place Mahanaim.[b]

Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my lord Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, male and female servants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.’”

When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”

In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups,[c] and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group,[d] the group[e] that is left may escape.”

The Chase–Genesis 31 Part 2

Laban was out to get even—He gathered up his posse and was off to capture his son-in-law.  He was going to show Jacob who was boss—BUT, while he was in pursuit, God interceded. Laban went to stop Jacob, God made it clear that Jacob was to be unharmed, untouched and undeterred.  So when he arrived, Laban made a fuss, but ultimately released his daughters, and their families into Jacob’s and ultimately into God’s hands. As difficult as it was, Laban had no choice. He could deceive friends and family, but he could not fool God.  At that moment, Laban realized what Jacob learned long before—Jacob was God’s chosen man.  He was under God’s care and a part of God’s economy—free from the control of men.

When we receive Christ as our Lord and savior, we also become one of God’s chosen.  As we follow him, we may be pursued by many.  They may have ill intentions and plans to do evil, but, unless God allows it—they will be thwarted.  We become so unhappy when life hands us difficult circumstances. Like Jacob, we must accept that God has a plan for us and will not allow the world to disrupt the plan.  Like Jacob, we need only follow him and move forward and allow him to do the rest.  We may not know his plan—but, we can trust it as what is best for us. In that, we may never know how he intercedes on our behalf.  We may never notice the times he saves us from the world’s attacks.  We simply continue to move forward and remain grateful.  Then at different points, we can look back and see the pillars of God’s intervention.  If we will remember those points, it will be easier to trust God with our life concerns. God remains present and active in our lives—we simply have to trust him to do what he has always done.

God Bless You

On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23 Taking his relatives with him, he pursued Jacob for seven days and caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. 24 Then God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.”

25 Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country of Gilead when Laban overtook him, and Laban and his relatives camped there too. 26 Then Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You’ve deceived me, and you’ve carried off my daughters like captives in war. 27 Why did you run off secretly and deceive me? Why didn’t you tell me, so I could send you away with joy and singing to the music of timbrels and harps? 28 You didn’t even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters goodbye. You have done a foolish thing. 29 I have the power to harm you; but last night the God of your father said to me, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’

There is Simply No Fooling God–Genesis 31 Part 2

What an amazing message for Jacob.  His years of service and trust were being confirmed from all perspectives. His wealth grew exponentially, his conniving father- in-law was failing at every turn, The Lord flat out told him he had been watching and protecting him and even his wives (that never agreed about anything) confirmed their support of their husband.  Jacob easily and without remorse packed up and headed home.

Often we ask God to give us a sign for confirmation.  It seems so quiet and desolate in our lives.  Then, God answers prayers, provides counsel and confirms through those we love and trust–and, instead of following his lead, we look doe-eyed at him and say can I have a sign? It must be frustrating to God.  We simply need to walk obediently and humbly with him and watch for the signs he provides. They may be subtle, but, they will be unmistakable.  We also must be patient and trust him with all our hearts.

The signs are there, we simply need to sharpen our spiritual awareness and exercise patience so that we can recognize his hand. He says in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.  Acknowledge him in all your ways and he will make your journey straight.”

God Bless You

The angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob.’ I answered, ‘Here I am.’ 12 And he said, ‘Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.’”

14 Then Rachel and Leah replied, “Do we still have any share in the inheritance of our father’s estate? 15 Does he not regard us as foreigners? Not only has he sold us, but he has used up what was paid for us. 16 Surely all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children. So do whatever God has told you.”

Understanding the Order of Things–Genesis 31 Part 1

Why did it take 20 years for God to prepare Jacob for his return to Canaan. God’s timing is always perfect.  Jacob as he departed was a master con man.  He always used opportunity to better his position.  He had no loyalty to anyone but himself. God took him back to his roots, stripped him of his position and subjected him to a con artist that was clearly his match.  For the next 20 years Jacob saw Laban lie, cheat and steal to improve his lot. Jacob saw the affect it had on Laban’s  sons, his family and on Jacob himself. 

Jacob learned to be different. He learned to trust God to execute God’s plan. God delivered to him a four wives and 11 children. God built for Jacob a fortune of livestock, family and faith.  So, now a much matured patriarch was ready to lead a nation back to the land God had promised him. It took the full twenty years to establish God’s leadership of Jacob and Jacob’s dependence on God.

In our lives, there is much preparation for our mission to serve God. God has to establish his hold on our lives and prepare us to humbly follow him as he frees us and blesses us. In addition, he prepares the way for us so that the Journey not only impacts us and so many others we meet along the way.  The Christian walk was never intended to be insulated or singular.  It is never about us, it is always about God and his plan–we cannot follow him and not impact others.  He is patient in his preparation, so, we must also be patient in our process of being molded to become like him and to be used for his plan.

God Bless You

Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.” And Jacob noticed that Laban’s attitude toward him was not what it had been.

Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”

So Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah to come out to the fields where his flocks were. He said to them, “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me. You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength, yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times. However, God has not allowed him to harm me. If he said, ‘The speckled ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks gave birth to speckled young; and if he said, ‘The streaked ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore streaked young. So God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.

Genetics God’s Way–Genesis 30 Final

We often attribute genetic engineering to modern science. Truth is God was blessing genetics since the time of Jacob. While Laban was trying to disrupt Jacobs attempts to grow his own wealth, God was blessing the genetic engineering Jacob set out to do. Jacob knew the weak from a strong sheep and as he would pair them off, God would bless Jacob’s sheep. His lab was the fields his tools poplar branches. The result, however, would have trilled any genetics lab. 

The world continues to underestimate God and his knowledge and wisdom. As master designer, he can do all things. As man strives to gain knowledge, his best hope is to learn things that God knew from the start. 

We should not place our hope in science. While science is amazing, it is so far behind where God began. Jesus said it best, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

God Bless You

Whenever the stronger females were ready to mate, Jacob would place the peeled branches in the watering troughs in front of them. Then they would mate in front of the branches.

But he didn’t do this with the weaker ones, so the weaker lambs belonged to Laban, and the stronger ones were Jacob’s.

As a result, Jacob became very wealthy, with large flocks of sheep and goats, female and male servants, and many camels and donkeys.

 

Now that the Wives are Paid for–Genesis 30 Part 1

Per his promise, Jacob faithfully trusted the Lord for 14 years and saw God build his family and his Father in Law’s wealth.  He knew it was time to see God bless him.  So he went to his Father in Law and struck a new deal to help him build his flocks.  He was not greedy, he allowed the deal to favor his father in Law.  Because after 14 years, he had become confident in God’s design.  With Jacob their was no need to lie, cheat or steal, because he had now seen God truly does provide and bless his kids.

We are all to be wary, to use the brains God has blessed us with, but, in the end, it is still his blessing that is most apparent in our lives.  We have to continue to watch him lead in poverty and prosperity.  Jacob had a great life, no worries, plenty of family and great comfort–it would have been easy to simply relax where he was.  But he continued to move forward as God led him.  That is what we must do also.  Even when it is comfortable for us, we need to be sensitive to his lead.  When we do, then we do not become comfortable and arrogant forgetting who is leading the journey.

God Bless You

After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland. 26 Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I’ve done for you.”

27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you.” 28 He added, “Name your wages, and I will pay them.”

29 Jacob said to him, “You know how I have worked for you and how your livestock has fared under my care. 30 The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I do something for my own household?”

31 “What shall I give you?” he asked.

“Don’t give me anything,” Jacob replied. “But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them: 32 Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages. 33 And my honesty will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me. Any goat in my possession that is not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is not dark-colored, will be considered stolen.”

The Conversion of Leah–Genesis 29 Final

Everyone wants to be loved.  Leah was a great person, she was married to the father of The Israelite people–but, she was not loved. At least not by her husband.  Leah was loved so much by God.  Funny thing was she was so focused upon changing Jacob’s heart, that she failed to realize she was the one that needed a conversion.  Leah after the birth of the Son Judah, finally realized that it was God’s Love–not Jacob’s she needed to sustain her.  What’s more, Judah–Jesus’ great, great…Granddad–was the first child to change a mothers heart.  Leah had to release the need for Jacob’s Love to finally experience Love as it is meant to be.

Looking at our lives, we spend a great deal of time and energy “Looking for love in all the wrong places!” We seek approval from parents or friends.  We seek love from relationships and spouses.  We seek accolades from performance or work–all signs that we are loved.  Truth is, Judah’s great, great…Grandson Jesus gave us the sign of the cross–the ultimate picture of love.  We need look no farther to realize God truly loves us completely and unconditionally.  Really, no other love matters!

God Bless You

When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben,[b] for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”

33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon.[c]

34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi.[d]

35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah.[e] Then she stopped having children.

Step 3 Have Kids–Genesis 29 Part 4

Building a nation God’s way was not the same as Jacob would have planned.  He would have married Rachel and lived happily ever after, back home with Mom.  But God had another plan.  His plan included providing a group of sons through Leah the unloved wife.  It was difficult, to see Rachel unable to bear children.  But it was great to have healthy sons to fill his family.  As the tribe grew, so did Jacob’s ability to be free and independent.  He only wanted one wife but, now he had four. Truly, none of what happened would have been like Jacob would have done it. 

 In our daily lives, we have a picture of what our dream is.  We work up plans and set timelines of how to make them work.  In the midst of those plans, life happens—we do not get the jobs we expect.  We do not find the spouse when we expect.  Our health fails, our house burns any number of things we do not “Plan” to happen.  Still, if we follow the Lord, we see a wake of amazing things that God has done.  They are rarely things in times and places we would expect.  They are often glorious and beautiful experiences.  They have impacts on folks that would otherwise fall through the cracks and at the end, themselves change the world. God is careful not to tip his hand or make things too apparent—simply because if we knew, we would alter it.  His plea, wait patiently and see the wonderful things that God will do—that is what he did for Leah and that is what he will do for us.

 God Bless You

  When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben,[b] for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”

33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon.[c]

34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi.[d]

35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah.[e] Then she stopped having children.

 

Michael Smith

Bait and Switch–Genesis 29 Part 3

Jacob had been deceived.  There were no two ways about it.  He worked tirelessly for 7 years to obtain his wife Rachel.  Then on the day of the wedding, he was wed to Leah–ugghhh.  Not that Leah was bad, he just loved Rachel.  Jacob, the deceiver had been played like a fiddle.  What’s more, he was able to Marry Rachel as well–if he would work 7 more years–and he did.  This was a horrible injustice, totally not fair, BUT, it was what it was.

So goes life in 2015–so many things happen that are neither our fault or fair to us. We see the inequities and experience the rotten tricks life plays, but then we must decide to soldier on.  When we do, that is when God does his best work.  When we trust and follow him during the worst, he makes us our best.  We can look back and see him work things together for his great will, but, we have to trust the process and honor him in all our actions.  It truly makes for an amazing journey–but, often a difficult trip.

God Bless You

Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.”

22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. 24 And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant.

25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”

26 Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.”

Genesis 29 Part 2–The Greatest Treasure

 

Happy Valentine’s Day…What a great story of Love began to unfold.  From the moment Jacob saw Rachel at the well, he was done—In Bambi speak, he was twitterpaited!!!  His uncle offered him anything for a wage, but without hesitation he chose Rachel.  He was willing to work for 7 long years to have her for his wife—that is true love. God’s word says the 7 years seemed like just a few days because that is how deeply Jacob loved Rachel.  That is how we are to love our spouses! That is how God loves us.

We have to lay our lives down daily for our spouse! There is no demand too great, no time frame too long to give to have the ones we love.  On this holiday we celebrate the loves in our lives, we need to be ready to love them as Jacob loved Rachel—we need to show them the devotion he showed her.  If we are willing to love like that, our marriages will be legen…wait for it…dairy!!! (that is for those that gave their loves milk chocolate!) Seriously, each of us needs to hold our wives as dear as Jacob held Rachel—You can start this Valentine’s Day weekend! If you will, God will honor your marriage and you will start a tradition in your family that could very well change the world!

God Bless You

After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, 15 Laban said to him, “Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be.”

16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak[a] eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”

19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.

21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.”