Genesis 32:24 NIV
Why would God let someone wrestle with Him? Because wrestling requires close contact. Jacob was a self-made man with an independent attitude that said, “I don’t need anybody but myself.” How long will God wrestle with you? Only for a limited time. In Jacob’s case, “till daybreak.” God knew that if Jacob didn’t submit to Him that night, the rest of his life wouldn’t go right. There’s a lesson here for all of us. Don’t procrastinate; you may be running out of time. Before you forfeit your integrity or your family and your future, stop and realize that God knows things you don’t know. He knows when the Enemy plans to launch his next attack, or when death will be allowed to claim you. When He wrestles with you, it’s to make you realize that you’re wasting your life, or neglecting your family, or to show you that you’re not the center of the universe. Or it’s to encourage you to keep this job without quitting, or stay involved in this church, or invest in this marriage instead of bailing out. God will wrestle with you until you stop making excuses and face the truth. And He doesn’t sugarcoat things. He gives it to you straight. He won’t let you get away with some of the stuff you’ve pulled in the past! The very fact that God is willing to wrestle you into submission means He has great plans for you. Indeed, what He has in mind is greater than anything you could ever conceive or imagine. That is why God is wrestling with you.
Soul food: Jer 51-52; Luke 7:11-23; Ps 118:10-18; Prov 15:31-32
Proverbs 13:20 NKJV
Let’s look at arrested relational development. God’s plan for your life requires connecting with the right people – and disconnecting from the wrong ones. Sitting beside Jesus at the Last Supper were John, who loved Him, and Judas, who betrayed Him. It’s imperative to know who is sitting at your table! So to that end pray: “Lord, I pray for the people You’ve brought into my life and placed on my heart. Bless the healthy relationships, and give me wisdom to handle the difficult ones in a way that pleases You. If there are friendships I need to walk away from, ones that will be harmful no matter what I do, show me what to do and give me the grace and courage to do it. If there are relationships that are draining and distracting me from Your plan and purpose, I trust You to bring them to an end or change them for the better. And when I’m the one who needs to change, show me, and work in my life by Your amazing power. I need Your wisdom to recognize the friends and associates I should choose. Help me to steer clear of relationships that lead me away from the path You’ve laid out for me. Send people into my life who are godly and wise, and help us to bless, encourage and contribute to the quality of each other’s lives. Show me the friendships that are worth fighting for, and I’ll gladly do it. Be Lord of all my relationships so that they will be what You want them to be. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”
Soul food: Rev 7:13-17; Ps 23; Luke 15:1-7
2 Corinthians 9:11 NIV
How many times do you find yourself asking for more than you already have? We might want more friends, higher pay at work, more blessings from God. In the world of technology, we want the new thing that’s been released, even if what we already have still works. God wants us to go to Him with our requests, but we need to examine the attitude of our hearts. We need to think about our motive for asking for more. Are we asking out of greed or out of generosity? Do we just want to keep up with everyone else? The Bible says: ‘You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God’ (2 Corinthians 9:11 NIV). God’s blessings are to encourage us to be generous. God loves blessing us just because He loves us. But we’re called to be generous with others. We should share our resources and help those who have less than us. The Bible also encourages us to be content with what we have already. Paul wrote: ‘I have learned how to be content with whatever I have’ (Philippians 4:11 NLT). Are we content when we don’t have everything we think we need? Or do we panic and pray desperately for more? Paul also said: ‘If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction’ (1 Timothy 6:8-9 NIV). We need to make sure that we’re not allowing greed and selfishness to take the place of generosity and kindness in our lives.
Titus 1-3; Mark 10:1-12; Ps 88:1-9a; Prov 11:24-26
Matthew 10:1 NCV
Let’s take another look at how Jesus loved the founders of the church, His twelve disciples. He recognised their gifts. He rejoiced in their successes. He supported and encouraged them to grow to their full potential. Jesus took the time to affirm people’s identity and encouraged them to do the things they’d been created to do. For example, He said to Peter: ‘So I tell you, you are Peter. On this rock I will build my church, and the power of death will not be able to defeat it’ (Matthew 16:18 NCV). He often pushed the disciples out of their comfort zones. He sent them out to do kingdom work and gave them the authority to heal and help people. The Bible says: ‘Jesus called his twelve followers together and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and sickness.’ Jesus didn’t need their help, but He wanted to get them involved. Are we willing to love others like that? Sometimes we want to do everything ourselves because we want to remain in control. Other times, we think it would just be much quicker to sort things out ourselves rather than involve other people. But if we want to love people well, we need to encourage them and give them opportunities to develop their God-given gifts. When we truly love someone, we won’t try to hold them back or try to control them because of our insecurities. We’ll recognise their gifting, help them become everything God called them to be, release them, and celebrate their successes with them. That’s how Jesus loved, so that’s how we should love too.
Gen 37-39; Matt 21:33-46; Ps 112; Prov 7:6-9
Proverbs 5:18 NKJV
The Bible says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ…loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25 NKJV), so let’s take another look at how Christ loved the founders of the church, His twelve disciples. He recognized their gifts. He rejoiced in their successes. He supported and encouraged them to grow to their full potential. Are you willing to do that? When you truly love someone, you won’t try to hold them back or seek to control them because of your insecurities. You’ll recognize their gifting, help them become everything God called them to be, release them, and celebrate their successes. And should their light shine brighter than yours, become their biggest cheerleader. If this wasn’t modeled in your family of origin, chances are, you’ll have to work at it. And if you had an unfaithful partner in a previous relationship, you may need to ask God to heal your heart and give you a new level of trust. Building this kind of relationship calls for a level of humility and honesty you’re probably not used to. It may require overcoming your male ego, admitting your fears, and saying to your wife, “I love you and I really want to trust you. Will you please help me?” Until you get through this stage and feel more secure about your relationship, a marriage partner who truly loves you will go the extra mile when it comes to telling you where they’ve been and who they spent time with during the day. The truth is, sometimes you have to fight for your marriage – but it’s worth it, because in the end, you both win!
Soul food: Gen 37-39; Matt 21:33-46; Ps 112; Prov 7:6-9