Genesis 32:24 NCV
In Genesis 32, we find the story of Jacob wrestling with God. We are told: ‘Jacob was alone, and a man came and wrestled with him until the sun came up.’ This man was in fact an angel, or actually God Himself. Hosea wrote: ‘When Jacob wrestled with the angel and won, he cried and asked for his blessing’ (Hosea 12:4 NCV). God did bless Jacob, but before that blessing, God dislocated his hip. This probably wasn’t what Jacob was wanting. The dislocated hip meant that Jacob would have to be reliant on God. He could no longer depend only on his own strength. When we think about wrestling with God, we can think it means trying to make God do things our way, to bless us the way we want to be blessed, and to give us the things we think would make our lives better. But wrestling with God is a process of laying down our plans and desires, and learning to trust God to provide and fulfil His promises for our lives. There’s a ‘Jacob nature’ in each of us that resists the will of God, and it has to be dealt with. Here are a few questions we need to ask ourselves: 1) Am I willing to let go of what I want if it’s not God’s will for me? 2) Do I want what others have instead of waiting for God’s provision for me? 3) Do I keep talking about my rights because I haven’t fully surrendered to God? God longs to bless us, but that blessing won’t always look like we thought it would. Sometimes we need to lay things down before the blessing comes. We need to surrender all of ourselves to Him.
Ezek 10-13; Matt 21:18-32; Ps 84; Prov 19:11
Genesis 32:24 NLT
Some of your toughest battles in life will be with God. That’s because there’s a “Jacob nature” in each of us that resists the will of God, and it has to be dealt with. The same God who asked Jacob, “What is your name?” will ask you to identify yourself too. And until you’re willing to do an honest evaluation and answer truthfully, your life can’t change for the better. God had to break Jacob by dislocating his hip, the thing he depended on. Jacob got his blessing at the same time he got his limp. Ask yourself, “Do I really want the blessing of God on my life?” Before you answer, stop and ask yourself these questions: (1) Am I willing to let go of what I want if it’s not God’s will for me? (2) Do I covet what others have instead of waiting for God’s provision for me? (3) Do I keep talking about my rights because I haven’t fully surrendered to the Lord? (4) Do I truly love others and think of them first? (5) Am I practicing the daily disciplines of prayer and Bible reading? (6) Am I allowing God to handle my public relations instead of promoting myself? (7) Am I expressing joy in the midst of adversity and trusting God to reproduce the character of Jesus in me? (8) Am I taking risks in obedience to Christ instead of giving in to fear and playing it safe? Not only will your answers to these questions determine your discipleship, your direction, and your destiny – they will also determine your level of blessing.
Soul food: Ezek 10-13; Matt 21:18-32; Ps 84; Prov 19:11
1 Samuel 12:21 NKJV
In order to succeed in what God has called you to do in life, you must recognize your gift and know your goal. When you’re clear about and committed to these two things, you need to demonstrate two qualities: discipline and determination. Fritz Kreisler, one of the greatest violinists of all time, had them. Crowds packed Carnegie Hall in New York to hear him. But the road to success was a bumpy ride. As a boy he wanted to do nothing more than play the violin, so his parents paid for him to have music lessons. But he didn’t make as much progress as they hoped, and after a few years he quit the lessons. Over the next several years, through college and early adulthood, he studied medicine but failed to complete medical school. He joined the army and failed to be promoted. He tried and quit many other pursuits. Realizing that the one piece of success he had enjoyed in life related to the violin, he went back to his instructor and said, “I want to play.” She said, “Fine, I’ll take you back as a student, but only if you acquire the irreplaceable quality that is necessary for you to become a great violinist. You must exhibit undefeatable determination.” So once again, here are your steps to success: (1) Recognize your gift. (2) Know your goal. (3) Dedicate yourself to the process no matter how long it takes. (4) Trust God to bless your efforts.
Soul food: 1 Kings 10-11; Mark 8:27-38; Ps 45; Prov 12:7-9
Romans 12:19 NKJV
Vengeance is God’s job, not yours. He will repay – whether on the Day of Judgment or in this life. He can discipline your abusive boss, soften your angry parent, bring your ex to his knees or her senses. Forgiveness doesn’t diminish justice; it entrusts it to God. He guarantees the right amount of retribution. We give too much or too little, but He has the precise prescription. And unlike us, He never gives up on a person. (And you should be glad about that). Long after we have moved on, God is still there probing the conscience, stirring conviction, orchestrating redemption. Fix your enemies? That’s God’s job. Forgive your enemies? Ah, that’s where you come in. “Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to…God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord. Instead…’If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.’ Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good” (vv. 17-21 NLT). Author Max Lucado says: “Revenge builds a lonely, narrow house. Space enough for one person. The lives of its tenants are reduced to one goal: Make someone miserable. They do – themselves. No wonder God insists we ‘Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent’ (Hebrews 12:15 TM).”
Soul food: Job 40-42; Luke 19:37-44; Ps 69:1-18; Prov 8:27-29
Romans 12:19 NIV
When someone hurts us, we often naturally want revenge. We want them to feel the pain that they have caused us. But revenge is not God’s way. God’s way is forgiveness. That doesn’t mean that justice doesn’t happen. God is the ultimate judge. It is up to Him to bring justice. He says: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay’. That might be on Judgment Day or in this life. But He calls us to forgive others. We’re told to ‘Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to…God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD. Instead…”If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good’ (vv.17-21 NLT). Forgiving someone doesn’t mean they avoid justice; it means we’re trusting God to deal out justice. And He never gives up on a person. Even after we’ve moved on, God’s still there pricking the person’s conscience, stirring conviction in their heart, and orchestrating redemption and change in their life. The Bible says: ‘Do not be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil. Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ’ (Ephesians 4:31-32 NCV). So let’s try and be people who forgive those who have hurt us, and leave the justice to God.
Job 40-42; Luke 19:37-44; Ps 69:1-18; Prov 8:27-29