God’s Second Greatest Act of Love (It Might Surprise You)

If you know me, this won’t come as a surprise, but I’m a rule follower. Mostly because I strongly dislike getting in trouble. However, when it comes to driving the speed limit, I tend to curb the rule following. Especially since nine times out of ten, by the time I have everyone in the van, with appropriate attire on their feet, we’re running late.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 20
Key Verse: “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” Psalm 19:7


I’ve tried to leave earlier – I don’t know why it doesn’t work. Though in almost twenty years, I’m happy to say, I’ve only had one ticket and it happened not long after acquiring my license. (Watch, I’ll probably get one tomorrow.)

The worst part was the police officer pulled me over in the parking lot of our church Thanksgiving dinner. (Hello there so many people who know me.) To put it mildly, I was devastated and no longer in the mood to be thankful. One look at my hot mess of a face and my mother let me go home to sit in the bathtub. The fact that I’d just gotten in trouble in front of well, half my church, left me in need of bubbles, not turkey.

(Ugh, I hate getting in trouble.)

The problem is, not everyone shares my fondness for rule following. In fact, the Bible says even my preconceived notion to follow the rules (minus the speed limit) is a hoax. Psalms 3:2-3 states, “The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.”

Not even one – we’re a sad case. But if we did follow after God, after his precepts and rules, oh the life we would lead. Not because all would be well and dandy with wild flowers doting our every path but because of the closeness of God we would know and experience.

Obedience is the soil by which the knowing of God will grow.

1 John 2:4-5 says, “Whoever says I know him but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.”

If you want to know God – you’ve got to obey him. Why? Because the law is the essence of God’s heart. Consider this..

God called David a man after His own heart not because he lived life perfectly (i.e. Bathsheba), but because he loved the law (see Psalm 119) and the law reflects God’s heart, expressing His nature in multiple ways. The law is good and righteous and true and so is God. “Righteous are you, O LORD, and right are your rules” (Ps. 119:137).

But unfortunately rules have gotten a bad rap. Gaining the reputation of boring, restrictive, stuffy, tiresome, tedious. A technicality not worth following. Especially God’s rules. Which the world now views as relative for some and not for others depending on how you feel that day. Or your upbringing. Or your circumstances.

A sad delusion that’s significantly damaged our relationship with God.

Because His ways are not restrictive, they’re freeing. Psalm 119:45 says, “I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments” (NLT). When God’s commands are followed blessings abound (Ps. 1:1-2). Peace is given (Ps. 119:165). Understanding is gained (Ps. 119:99). The heart overflows with joy (Ps. 119:111). Comfort is received (Ps. 119:52). And something more valuable than gold is attained (Ps. 119:72).

God’s rules are like a map for living the best life possible. Turn left here, turn right there, leading to the most amazing treasure we could ever receive – God himself.

“Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me” (Ps. 119:175).

Therefore, God’s second greatest act of love is right here in Exodus 20: the giving of His law. It’s not the first because “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13, NIV). Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection for a people like us – yeah, nothing tops that.

But for God to come down from Heaven and speak the outpourings of His heart to a people He knew couldn’t follow it and wouldn’t follow it – this is love. Yet for the purpose of guiding us and them unto himself through the work and person of Jesus Christ, God shared His desires anyway.

We call them the Ten Commandments. So important were these rules to God, He wrote them himself on two stone tablets that were to be kept in the ark of the covenant. They weren’t to go anywhere. Their permanency guiding generation after generation; even in the New Testament.

Though today the church no longer needs to follow the ceremonial law (the sacrifices) or civil law (the rules that governed Israel as a nation). The moral law (i.e. the Ten Commandments) are very much still in play.

Why? Because God’s heart didn’t change. His guidelines for life and joy and holiness are still the same. What changed was our ability to follow them. So important are these rules to God He put his own spirit within us to help. “And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezekiel 36:27).

No longer would it be done in the old nature but with the new. In the Spirit, instead of the flesh. In Christ’s strength, instead of our own. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). (The true essence of that verse.)

Yet God knew we couldn’t keep His rules perfectly and it’s perfection he requires. Thus, we’re saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not by keeping the law. Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, just as Israel was. (Giving us all the more reason to obey Him!)

God’s heart is before us in Exodus 20. Just as we set rules for our kids because we love them, our Father cared enough to set rules for us. It’s not out of spite He’s asked us to live a certain way, it’s out of love. “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul” (Ps. 19:7).

He’s not only a God who loved us enough to give us His son, He’s a God who loved us enough to give us His law.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
How do you view God’s laws? As suggestions? Commands? Relevant or no longer necessary?
Are the Ten Commandments something you still try to live by today?
Why is the giving of the law a loving act of God?

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When God Gives a New Song to Sing

On any given Sunday, you’ll find congregations of people around the world singing songs to the LORD. Beautiful songs with lyrics like, “Show us your glory.” “Open the eyes of my heart, LORD.” “Draw me close to you.” Raising our hands in sincerity to a God we know rules on high, we sing loud and with conviction.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 14
Key Verse: “The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” Psalm 118:14


But then Monday comes. Or Wednesday or Friday. And life goes a little askew. Hard things happen. Things we don’t quite understand. Overwhelming things. Unfair things. Things that take us by surprise.

And with no thought to what we just sang on Sunday, we wonder why is this happening? Why is God allowing this? I do my best to serve Him and this is what I get? Upset we lose site of an important truth we see throughout the Bible.

It’s often in the difficult things we best see His glory and come to know Him more.

But I’m not pointing fingers! When I’m up to my neck in circumstances, it’s not generally the splendor of my Savior I’m most concerned about. It’s my survival. Though I know I’d have more peace if I’d simply focus on the Savior.

Just as Israel would have if they’d looked to God when stuck between Migdol and the sea. Strategically speaking, they were doomed. With the sea on one side and the Egyptian army fast approaching on the other, things had suddenly taken a turn for the terrible.

When they looked up, it wasn’t the pillar of cloud they saw. It wasn’t God’s presence they focused on. It was an angry Pharaoh. Who’d sought counsel with his advisors and realized maybe it wasn’t such a good idea he’d just let his entire workforce go. After all, they had a nation to rebuild!

“So he [Pharaoh] made ready his chariot and took his army with him, and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them” (v. 7).

With every Egyptian chariot locked and loaded and headed straight for them, I can’t totally blame the Israelites for their over the top reaction.

Scared out of their newly tied sandals, “They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness” (v. 11-12).

(Sounds like one of those dramatic speeches I hear from my children when I tell them we’re doing chores Saturday morning. “No, it’s not fair! It would have been better for me to have school today than break my arm vacuuming.”)

You’ll be fine.

Which in short, is the same speech Moses gave Israel. Except a little more valiant. “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today…The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be still.” (v. 13). (Perhaps I’ll break into this speech next time my little loves complain.)

But in all seriousness, Moses gets major points here. Though his blood pressure had to be off the charts, he pointed the people to Jesus. Reminding them, it’s God who’s in charge. It’s God who fights for you. (Remember all those plagues you just witnessed?)

But keep in mind, Moses didn’t know either how God was going to get them out of this little predicament. Not until God told him anyway! “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground” (v. 15-16).

Ohhhh, so that’s how you’re going to get us out of this.

Then the angel of God (Jesus) who had been leading the way, went behind the people. (Reminds me of the verse, “You hem me in behind and before.” Psalm 139:5) And of course the pillar of cloud went also, because Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory. Providing light on one side so the Israelite’s could see and cross safely. (Literally, a light unto their path – Psalm 119:105). And darkness on the other so the Egyptian’s could see nothing as Moses raised his staff and the people crossed.

What a night! Could they see the fish in the walls of water? How tall was it? What did it sound like? An unimaginable experience, not even their sandals were muddy. God, in kindness, dried the ground for his people! Allowing each one of them to cross in safety before lifting the cloud so the Egyptians would follow in after, only to be swept away by a sudden, massive deluge of water.

“The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained” (v. 28). “Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians” (v. 30).

Giving them a new song to sing! (See Exodus 15.) “I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and the rider he has thrown into the sea” (15:1).

But they didn’t stop there. The Psalms are full of songs regarding this incident.

Psalm 66: 5-6 “Come and see what God has done; he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man. He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot. There did we rejoice in him.”

Psalm 77:19 “Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.”

Psalm 106:1-2, 9 “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD, or declare all his praise? He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry, and he led them through the deep as through a desert.”

And that’s just a sampling. There’s more!

My friend, to see God at work and experience the helping hand of the Almighty we may need to walk through some tough stuff. Sometimes he may part the waters. Other times, he may not. But if we look to Jesus, either way, He’ll walk us through it. And in the end, we’ll have a new song to sing! One that if shared could be sung for generations to come, both now and in eternity.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
When have you seen God powerfully work in your life? Did He give you a new song to sing?
If you were to write a new song today, what would the first line be?

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The Blessing of Jacob’s Sons and What it Means for Us

Have you ever wished you could see into the future? Only if it’s good right? If you’d told me last Sunday – “Hey this week, is going to be rough. You’re going to witness multiple tornado’s. Your kids are gonna be held after school. Your husband’s gonna be exhausted. And you’ll be completely spent by Thursday.” I think I would have peed my pants. (Just keepin’ it real.)


Devotional Scripture: Genesis 49
Key Verse: “Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he has washed his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes.” Genesis 49:11


Though it turned out fine, if handed that kind of vague description, there would have certainly been some ungluing. Which has me wondering what kind of reactions surfaced when Jacob handed each of his sons a vague description of their future.

It was common in Bible times to pass a blessing onto your children. And in some cases (like this one) it was prophetic. How did Jacob know the future? My best answer is that God revealed it to him. (Genius conclusion, I know.) Hebrews 11 says, “By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff” (v. 21).

Out of a sweet intimacy with the God of his father and grandfather, Jacob was able to say to his boys, “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in days to come” (v. 1). Literally meaning “in the end days” or “latter days.”

At this point in history, today, right now, some of what Jacob spoke seems to have already taken place and some of it not. Let’s also remember sometimes prophecies can have double meanings. The sons of Israel were not told exactly when each fulfillment would take place. They were only told it was yet to come.

Reuben was up first. With words like “firstfruits of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power,” I’d say Reuben was all ears, until Jacob dropped the bomb – “unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father’s bed” (v. 4). In other words, you get nothing because you had sex with my servant wife Bilhah.  Oops.

Next came Simeon and Levi, who may have fought the urge to run after hearing Reuben’s “blessing”. Jacob knowing time was short, cut to the chase. “Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence…Let my soul come not into their council…For in their anger they killed men” (v. 5-6). “Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce…I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel” (v. 7).  

Remember Simeon and Levi were the ones who killed all the Shechemites after a town wide circumcision party. As a result, these two tribes were later scattered among Israel, so they could do no more harm. (Think that announcement caused any anxiety?) Though little did Levi know God’s grace would overflow and his tribe would be divided as priests among the people.

Now before we get to Judah, who was next up according to birth order, consider the emotions evoked when Jacob told Issachar he would “become a servant at forced labor” (v. 15). And that raiders would get Gad. Or what about the fact that Dan would be a judge or Zebulun “a haven for ships” (v.13). “Hey not fair! Why does he get to live by the sea?”

However, I doubt any of them were surprised by the prophetic words of blessing spoken over Joseph, who received two allotments (or a double portion), through the adoption of his two sons.

But none of it compares to the blessing given to Judah. “Your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you” (v.8). “The scepter shall not depart from Judah…and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” (v. 10). Judah was privileged to carry the messianic blessing. Through the person of Jesus Christ, “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev. 5:5), the scepter would forever be in his lineage.

Though right now Christ reigns on high in heaven, one day he will reign on high here, with us, on a new earth, “set free from its bondage to corruption” (Rom. 8:21). It’s going to happen. It’s not make believe. It’s not a fairy tale. It’s not wishful thinking. Jesus, the radiance of God’s glory, the bright morning star, the promised descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and now Judah will reign as King forever over all nations and all people.

It hasn’t happened yet, but it will. And when it does, they’ll be so much prosperity and abundance because of God’s glorious presence, you’ll be able to tie a donkey to a choice vine without caring if he eats it all. Or wash your clothes in wine instead of water (v. 11), if it so pleases you.

Is it any wonder then that Jesus’ first miracle was to turn water into wine? It was not just a neat trick. It was a sign the Messiah had arrived. Amos 9 actually says “the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it” (v.13). The land will be so plentiful as soon as it’s planted, it will be ready for harvest. And as soon as it’s harvested, you’ll be able to plant it again. (Crazy for this farmer’s wife to even think about.)

Ezekiel 47 adds that the Jordan Valley will flow with fresh water from the throne of God itself. Fish will be abundant. Trees will yield fresh fruit every month (Ezek. 47:12). And you know what else? This copious and bountiful heavenly earth where God’s presence forever dwells with man, will be divided among the twelve tribes of Israel, including Joseph with his two portions (Ezek 47:13).

Talk about the ultimate fulfillment of a promise! Come what may, the sons of Jacob had no need to worry. And neither do we. In that day, when Christ’s kingdom is here and the heart’s of all people are in tune with him, every sojourner and foreigner will be treated as “native-born children of Israel,” and allotted an inheritance among the tribes (Ezek. 47:22).

Beloved of God, in Jesus Christ, this is your future. Peace and prosperity on a new earth abundant; with Christ our King forever on the throne. Though today may feel a bit uncertain, our fate is not. It’s steadfast and fixed and full of possibility. So don’t worry about tomorrow; don’t be anxious; don’t be scared. Our future isn’t vague, it’s victorious!

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Do you consider often the glorious eternity that awaits you as a believer in Jesus Christ or seldom think of it because the here and now seems all consuming?
How do you tend to view heaven? As one long eternal church service or life more abundant than we could possibly imagine in the presence of our God and King?

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18

Why I Pray for Israel

Maybe it’s because I’m with them all day. But for some crazy unheard of reason my kids don’t always listen to me. Can you believe it? However if daddy declares it or says it or asks for it – there’s usually a response. And a quick one at that.


Devotional: Genesis 47:7-31
Key Verse: I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3


“Why is that?” I asked the kids after a long morning of hearing myself give instructions to apparently no one in particular. “Maybe because daddy always means what he says.” (Emphasis on the word always please.)

“Well how very insightful my dear, sweet, precious children.” At least that’s how I think I responded. Or maybe responded or wished I responded. Anyway, once the shock wore off of hearing I only sometimes mean what I say, I realized maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing. Not that the kids don’t mind me, but that they have a dad who always follows through with what he says. Because they also have a God who does the very same thing.

Every single word God speaks comes forth exactly as He says it will, because the LORD always means what he says. Proverbs 30:5 says “Every word of God proves true.”

So when God told Abraham in Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse,” He meant it. Anyone who stood by Abraham would be blessed, but anyone who stood against him would suffer the consequences.

It’s a promise wrapped in what we like to refer to as the Abrahamic Covenant. A group of promises given to Abraham, reiterated to Isaac and Jacob, and passed to their descendants – the nation of Israel.

So when Pharaoh reached down into the pit and made Joseph governor of Egypt; when he graciously welcomed Jacob’s family into the kingdom; when he granted them rights to the best land in all the region, he was not just being nice. He was unknowingly blessing God’s people.

Therefore God blessed him in great abundance. First through the words of Jacob who was brought into Pharaoh’s throne room after his sons were escorted out. And then by the work of Joseph…

When the Egyptians ran out of money to buy food during the famine they came to Joseph for help.  “We’re out of money but we need more food!” So Joseph allowed them to sell their livestock in exchange for more. But a year later they were in trouble again. With no money and no livestock left to their name they suggested Joseph buy them and their land in exchange for more food that they might survive the famine.

So he did. He sold grain to the people in exchange for their land and they became Pharaoh’s servants. It may sound harsh to us but it was a win win as far as the Egyptians were concerned. They not only had food to eat and seed to sow but got to keep four fifths of the crop for themselves. Even in years of plenty, only twenty percent would go to Pharaoh.

And through it all, Pharaoh was immensely blessed with livestock and land and great wealth. Why? Because God was faithful to his word to bless those who bless his people. Is the promise still in effect today? Does God still bless those who bless Israel and curse those who dishonor them? Well quite honestly I don’t see why not. And have no desire to test God on the matter.

First of all the promise was restated in a blessing spoken over Israel in Numbers 24:9, “Blessed are those who bless you, and cursed are those who curse you.” Secondly, God still loves Israel.

They are the apple of his eye (Zech. 2:8). He chose them out of all the peoples of the earth to be his treasured possession because of his oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (cf. Deut. 7:6-8) And I don’t know about you but I don’t usually discard my treasured possessions.

Romans 11 says the Jews are ““beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (v. 28-29). He cannot and will not go back on his word.

Though for a time God has hardened the heart of Israel, “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Rom. 11:25), he has not deserted them. Look with me at Revelation 21. When the holy city, the new Jerusalem, referred to as “the Bride, the wife of the Lamb” comes down from heaven it will have a great wall with twelve gates and twelve foundations. On the gates will be “the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel” (v. 12). And on the foundations will be the “names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (v. 14).

Someday, in someway, God will bring his beloved bride and his beloved people together forever. Until then we stand by their side because “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). “To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all” (Rom. 9:5).

Beloved of God, pray for Israel. And pray for the leaders of our nation. Pray with me that we will always and forever be a blessing to Israel not just for our own protection, but because they are God’s treasured possession and a vessel of blessing to all families of the earth through Jesus Christ our LORD. My friend may we never forget, our Savior bled Jewish blood.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Since World War II America has given over 120 billion dollars in aid to Israel. We have stood by their side continually. Do you think there is a correlation between the great blessings our nation has experienced and the hand of blessing we’ve extended to Israel? Why or why not?
How has God been faithful to his promises in your life? What promise are you holding onto today?


If today’s Deeper Devo was encouraging to you or insightful you have my permission to share it! My heart’s cry is for God to use my writing to encourage, enlighten, and educate hearts of believers and nonbelievers every single week. Thanks my friend!

Learning to Lean on God

Leaning on God is not a natural stance. In fact sometimes it feels incredibly awkward and downright uncomfortable. It’s much easier (most of the time) to just stand upright and do it myself. “I got this God. I’ll call when I need you.”


Devotional Scripture: Genesis 32:9-32
Key Verse: “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11


But that’s not how God works is it. Bottom line: God wants me completely dependent on him. Not just for salvation, but for every step, every breath. Because He knows – on my own – I’m doomed. I’ll trust my heart when I shouldn’t. Rely on my own understanding when I actually understand very little. And more often than not, take the wrong path.

So He must teach me to lean; to rely on Him first and foremost. A process every believer endures, so don’t go thinkin’ you’re the exception. We’re all flawed with self-sufficiency. (I know, it stinks.) And the only way to get us from self-dependent to God-dependent is to break us of it, with the hard things. The bring-us-to-our-knees things. The gut-wrenching stuff that escorts us with gusto from a place of self-preservation to undeniable desperation.

A place like Jacob found himself the night before meeting Esau. Scared and anxious about what tomorrow might bring, Jacob sent his family ahead in order to spend what very well might be his last night of life – alone. He’d prayed to the God of his father and grandfather, reminding the LORD of his own words. But felt nothing – no reassurance, no vision, no angel armies. Just terrifying concern.

What was he to do? He hoped to appease Esau with gifts equivalent to that of a birthright. Five droves ranging from goats to donkeys totaling 550 animals plus babies. Maybe it’d work, but what if it didn’t? The thought was almost too much to bear. He couldn’t fight. He didn’t have a militia of 400 men. And besides he didn’t want to.

But little did Jacob realize his entire life he’d been fighting. Fighting a battle of independence and self-sufficiency against a God who requires dependence. Can you relate? I think we all can. We fight to do things our way, in our timing, for our happiness. Afraid to give up our goals and dreams because it’s scary to release control. Sure we believe Jesus died on the cross, but give him control of my life? What if he doesn’t do what I want? True. But what if he does something even better?! With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or think of.” (Eph. 3:20; ICB)

Yet we wrestle with God mentally and spiritually. Symbolized for us through Jacob’s physical wrestling match. Which I just cannot fathom. All night? For real? Did they stop for breaks? Most wrestling matches are so physically exhausting they last for mere minutes, not hours.

And this one was against Jesus no less. Verse 24 says it was a man but after an all night struggle and a miraculous touch to his hip socket Jacob knew, declaring come morning “I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” How could he see God face to face? Because it was the Angel of the LORD (Hosea 12:4), the preincarnate Jesus Christ, Jacob wrestled with.

What else do we know about the greatest wrestling match of all time? Not much. Except that Jacob didn’t give up. Exhausted, pain pulsing through his lower body at the dislocation of his hip, he held fast. The man even requested, “Let me go, for the day has broken” (v. 26). But Jacob refused. Insisting “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  

Twenty years prior he went to great lengths to obtain his father’s blessing. A blessing he thought he needed more than anything else. A blessing he was willing to risk his life for. A blessing that cost him more than he ever imagined. But that night on the bank of the Jabbok river – he went to great lengths to obtain God’s.

Realizing the greatest blessing he could possibly receive in this life is not one of his own making but God’s. Bestowed on the one willing to lean; willing to follow. Willing to give up self-sufficiency for God-dependency.

But it’s not natural. Not even a little, so God pursues us. Allowing us times of grief or hardship so we’ll learn to lean. Learn to hold onto him no matter what. So he can bless us. And use us in ways we never imagined. Jacob had no idea what God had planned for him (neither do we). He had no clue on the other side of that river, snuggled close to their mama’s, were the future tribes of Israel.

If God could take a man like Jacob, a self-sufficient deceiver, and make him into a man of faith. Then who knows what he could do with us! Let the refiner work! Let him remake you on the threshing floor of hard times. Into a man or woman of great faith, daily dependent on a God who is faithful. “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:11).

Jacob walked the rest of his life with a limp because of that wrestling match. But I have a feeling he’d say it was worth it. My friend it may not be easy. We may have to wrestle through some tough stuff. But I guarantee you – the blessing of learning to live dependent on God through any and every moment of life – will absolutely be worth it.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
How does your Christian walk reflect a God-dependent faith?
What blessing do you long for more than anything else – one of your own making or God’s?
What difficulty or trial has God used to refine your character to be more like His?

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photo credit: Pixabay

Sometimes We Need to Let Go

Devo Scripture: Genesis 13
Key Verse: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked…but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Ps. 1:1-2

We cling to things…don’t we? Tight. Like that dream, that child, that house, that job, that plan, that money is the one thing that will make us happy. The one thing. So we pray. We take it to God and we beg him for it. Please LORD, please just this once answer my prayer the way I want you to. Or we fight for it. At the risk of losing everything…we fight. We let it consume us until every thought, every moment, every whisper is for it and it alone. Never mind our witness. Never mind our relationships. Never mind our God.

And it very well might rightfully be yours. You may have worked hard for it. It belongs to you. So no way should you have to let go of it. No way. It wouldn’t be fair. After all it’s yours. Don’t worry I feel the same way. It’s mine…my reputation, my security, my comfort, my desire, my life, my idea, my hope, my shame, my pride, my sin.

So we cling. Harder. Because “blessed is he who gets what he wants.” Is that it? Is that what Scripture says? No, it’s not. But we act like it is. Atleast I do…when I pray unceasingly for what I want. What I think I need to make me happy. To keep me happy.

But what if we let go? It’s scary, I know. But what if we let go of that which we cling most tightly to. That which we grasp at with such sincere audacity; which we think will make us most happy. What if we actually let go? For starters, maybe we wouldn’t be so worn out. (All that clinging and grasping is exhausting!) Maybe we’d actually “let go and let God” as we allude to. Maybe we’d realize life in HIS hands isn’t so bad after all. Maybe we’d still be ok. And maybe….just maybe we’d learn to trust Jesus who cares for us as we will never fully comprehend.

We might even find blessing. Abram did. When he – for the sake of his witness; for the sake of his relationship with his nephew; for the sake of his relationship with God – let go. They had a problem, he and Lot. They had too many riches! Together they overpowered the available pasture lands and wells. Their herdsmen quarreled. But instead of fighting back. Instead of getting really upset and demanding Lot respect his authority. Instead of pouting, complaining, feeling sorry for himself and stuffing his face with chocolate; instead of gossiping – he went to Lot. And he let go. “Let there be no strife between you and me…Is not the whole land before you?…If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left” (Gen. 13:8-9).

So Lot took a good look around (likely they were on elevated ground). “And saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt” (Gen. 13:10). It looked good! After the famine; after seeing Egypt; it looked really good. So he took it. All of it! (Blessed is he who gets what he wants. Right??) Problem was the land included Sodom. And the men of Sodom “were wicked, great sinners against the LORD” (Gen. 13:13). And because of his choice to dwell in wickedness Lot would lose much, including his wife. He would live daily with a tormented soul (2 Peter 2:8). No, he wasn’t blessed. But Abram was.

Abram, who let go. Abram, who worshiped God upon his return from Egypt. Abram, who learned to trust, with a ruthless trust, the Almighty God. He was greatly blessed. For God appeared to him and said look around. All the land you see I give to you and your descendants. Forever! Go and walk through it! So I imagine Abram did. I imagine he took a nice long walk. But then settled “by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron” (Gen. 13:18). He settled in rich communion with God; for Mamre can mean “richness” and Hebron means “communion.” What an incredible place to be…settled in rich communion with God. Truly Abram was blessed. For all communion with God is a blessing.

And we want blessing. Don’t we? Because it make us happy. And truly happiness is what we seek! It’s why we cling. It’s why we grasp. Because we want to be happy. And we think we know just what will make us happy. But do we? Do we really know? God’s made it clear. And it’s not always getting what we want. It’s doing what HE wants. That’s what will make us happy.

It’s not a coincidence the Hebrew and Greek words for blessed can be translated “happy”. It’s by design. God’s perfect design. Because happiness cannot be found in a dream, a hope, a wish, a goal. It’s found in Him…

Blessed [happy] is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked…but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Ps. 1:1-2

Blessed [happy] is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments!” Ps. 112:1

Behold, blessed [happy] is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.” Job 5:17

Blessed [happy] is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding.” Prov. 3:13

Blessed [happy] is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” Ro. 4:8

Blessed [happy] are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matt. 5:8

Blessed [happy] are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 5:10

Seek after Jesus my friend. Seek him with all your heart. Live always for him. Even if it means…you have to let go. For the sake of your relationships; for the sake of your witness; for the sake of His glory -sometimes we have to let go. But I have no doubt if it’s for his glory you’ll find yourself blessed. You’ll find yourself…happy.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What are you clinging to; what are you grasping for; that you need to let go of today?
What have you sought after for happiness? (A better body; love; wealth; position; honor) What does Scripture say will make you happy?

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