Tag Archives: Jacob

Patient Endurance 

  
Patience. It’s not a word we like very much. We like to have results quickly without having to put in the time and effort. We want answers given to us without us having to dig for them. We want growth without risk, and we want fruit without tending the garden. We’ve heard the saying, “Good things come to those who wait,” but who really wants to wait? We live in a now society where everything is given to us quickly. The temptation is to let our societal speed carry over into our spiritual growth.

Endurance. It’s not something you get in good times. It requires pushing yourself beyond what you think you’re capable of. It takes mental toughness to get it. You have to withstand pressure repeatedly in order to attain it. Giving up can’t be an option if you’re going to increase your endurance. You have to keep your mind on the prize to keep your mind off the struggle of you’re going to build your endurance. It isn’t given to you, it’s earned.

Both of these things are required of us as Christians. The more of God you want to know, the more patience and endurance you’re going to have to have. If we are willing to give up in the struggle, we will miss the blessings God is preparing us for. Hebrews 10:36 says, “Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised” (NLT). When things appear to be going wrong in our life, God is preparing us to receive all He has for us.

We can’t be like Jacob and fight it. In Genesis 42, there was a famine in the land. Jacob sent 10 of his sons to get food in Egypt. Joseph wanted them all there so he pretended to not know them, sent them home with their food, and held one brother captive until they returned with their other brother. Jacob felt like he was being punished when God was just trying to get him to the land of plants. In verse 36, he cried out, “You are robbing me of my children! Joseph is gone! Simeon is gone! And now you want to take Benjamin, too. Everything is going against me!”

If everything is going against you, it’s quite possible that God is actually trying to bless you. Jacob waited a long time before he sent his sons back to get more food and their brother. He could have been living without fear of starvation. He could have had the relationship with his son restored. God was trying to use what appeared to be negative circumstances to move him into a place of blessing. Imagine what God could be trying to do for you in your situation. Work on having patient endurance instead of complaining, and see what God does.

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Face To Face With Your Past

What happens when your past catches up to you? How do you handle facing the music? Our past mistakes have consequences that we wish we didn’t have to face, especially when we’ve learned our lesson. Jacob, in Genesis 32, was about to come face to face with his past. He was about to meet his twin brother whom he had cheated and knew that the time had come to quit running. He was afraid, paranoid and stressed out. He tried to think of every solution he could to minimize the price he’d have to pay.

Since they were born, he had cheated his brother. In fact, his mom named him Jacob which meant supplanter. thefreedictionary.com defines supplanter as, “One who wrongfully or illegally seizes and holds the place of another.” He lived up to that definition and now he had to face the music. He sent gifts ahead to his brother whom he would meet the next day. He separated all his belongings in case his brother attacked. That way one group would survive. He separated his kids and his wives. But that night, he spent alone because he wanted to beg God for mercy.

He stayed on the opposite side of the Jabbok River from his family. Jabbok interestingly means, “emptying”. I believe that night he emptied himself of all his past sins and begged God for forgiveness and for mercy. While he was praying, an angel met him and they began to wrestle. They wrestled all night long until the morning’s first light. When the angel realized that he couldn’t beat Jacob, he popped his hip out of socket. Jacob still didn’t give up. He knew what would happen if he did. The angel asked to be released and Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you declare a blessing on me.”

The angel asked for his name. He replied, “Jacob [supplanter, schemer, trickster, swindler]!” He told the angel not only his name, but how he had lived up to that name. He had let his name and his past define him. The angel’s blessing was that he would no longer be defined by a past that tricked people. He would now be called Israel [contender with God]. The angel said, “For you have contended and have power with God and with men and have prevailed.” He went from being a deceiver to a person of confidence and strength. He went from a person who hid from his past to a person who had God’s attention.

I asked in the beginning of this devotion what happens when your past catches up to you. For Jacob, it was the start of a new life. He no longer wanted to be the man he was or to be defined by the things he had done. He wanted a fresh start, a clean slate. He emptied himself of everything he had been and God filled him with who He wanted him to be. Today, if your past is haunting you or looming over you, empty yourself of the person who caused all of that. Ask God to bless you and to change who you are. When He does, your future will change too. You will be defined by who God says you are.

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Left With Nothing

Genesis 42 tells the story of Jacob sending all of his sons except Benjamin to Egypt to buy food. The seven year famine was in full effect and Jacob had no other choice but to send his sons to buy food. When they came before their brother Joseph, they didn’t recognize him. They bowed before him and immediately Joseph remembered his dreams. He accused them of being spies and put them in jail. They explained who they were and that they had another brother.

Joseph released all but one, Simeon, so that the others could return home with food and then bring back Benjamin. When they told their father Jacob what had happened, he was upset. In verse 36 he said, “You’re taking everything I’ve got! Joseph’s gone, Simeon’s gone, and now you want to take Benjamin. If you have your way, I’ll be left with nothing.” I wonder if that last line was directed more at God than his sons.

For Jacob’s survival, he had to give up everything including the one thing he was holding back. He’d suffered loss before and didn’t want to release Benjamin. Through his losses, he had forgotten God’s promise to him back when he wrestled with God. In Genesis 35:11, God told him, “You will become a great nation, even many nations. Kings will be among your descendants.” Now, God was asking him to release all of his sons into the unknown. He thought that if he held onto one, the promise could still come true.

When he agreed to release what he had held back and sent all of his sons to Egypt, then he not only was given food, housing, protection from the famine and Simeon back, he got what was lost and taken from him back. He was reunited with Joseph. He was also able to see the greater picture. Joseph had to be taken from him years earlier in order to ensure the survival of his family so the promise could come true. Joseph endured hardships all those years just so his family could endure the coming famine.

It’s got me thinking this morning, “What is the one thing I’m holding back from God? Have I trusted Him with my whole life, yet held something back as a security blanket? Am I bitter over a loss or a time of hardship?” God’s not satisfied with us giving Him 99%. He wants us to release 100% of what we have to Him. It will only appear that we will be left with nothing. What we will gain is so much more. It just takes faith and trust in God’s promises to you.

What prior loss has still left you scared to trust God with everything? What’s the one thing in your life that you’re withholding from God? Do you feel like you’ll be left with nothing if you give everything to God? You aren’t alone in those feelings. You aren’t wrong to have them. It becomes wrong when God asks for you to let go and you still hang on. Release it all to God today. His hands are far more capable of protecting it than yours. He’s able to return it and all that you’ve lost exceedingly and abundantly more than you can imagine.

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