I remember the first time God prompted me to leave my place of work and my response of why would I do that when things are so great and I am feeling so comfortable. I remember the second time when my morning reading brought me to Peter getting out of the boat and walking on water and when God used that to tell me it was time to start looking again. The first time, I resisted and the second time after the experience of not doing it God’s way and the pain and suffering that came with being disobedient was remembered, I started looking till He opened the right door – no hesitation that time.
I remember the time God called me to step up into a position that I felt unqualified to step into and how I resisted and was disobedient. I remember the next time and how I got an ultimatum that I would be president or I would be nothing and chose to go it God’s way!
His way is always the right way! It may not be easy, but it is the right way! It fulfills His plan and His purpose and allows what needs to get aligned and worked out to happen.
Today’s reading begins with Jacob getting a message from God to leave…Let’s check it out…God calling Jacob back to the land of his forefathers…
Jacob Secretly Leaves Laban1Now Jacob heard the words Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything that belongs to our father, and from what belongs to our father he has made all these riches.”2Then Jacob saw Laban’s face, and he noticed that his expression wasn’t the same as it was just a day or two before.3Then Adonai said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”4So Jacob sent and called for Rachel and Leah to come to the field, to his flock.5He said to them, “I can see by your father’s face that his expression isn’t the same as it was just a day or two ago. But the God of my father has been with me.6Now you yourselves know that I’ve served your father with all my strength.7Yet your father has fooled around with me and has changed my salary ten times—but God hasn’t allowed him to harm me.8If he would say, ‘the spotted ones will be your salary,’ then the flocks would give birth to spotted ones. Or if he would say, ‘the striped ones will be your salary,’ then all the flocks would give birth to striped ones.9So God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.10Now it happened when the flocks were in heat that I lifted up my eyes and saw, in a dream, behold, the males going up to the flocks were striped, spotted and speckled.11Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Hineni.’12He said, ‘Lift up your eyes and see that all the males going up to the flocks are striped, spotted and speckled. For I have seen everything Laban has done to you.13I am the God of Beth-El where you anointed a memorial stone, where you made a vow to Me. Get up now and leave this land, and return to the land of your relatives.’”14Then Rachel answered along with Leah and they said to him, “Is there still a portion and inheritance for us in our father’s house?15Aren’t we considered foreigners to him? For he has sold us and has also completely used up our bridal price.16For all the riches that God has taken away from our father is for us and for our children. So now, everything God said to you, do it!”17Then Jacob got up and put his children and wives on camels.18He drove away all his livestock and all his possessions that he had acquired—the livestock in his possession that he acquired in Paddan-aram—to go to his father Isaac, to the land of Canaan.19But while Laban went to shear his flocks, Rachel stole the idols that belonged to her father,20while Jacob stole the heart from Laban the Aramean by not telling him that he was fleeing.21He himself fled with everything that belonged to him, and he got up and crossed the River, and set his face toward the hill country of Gilead.–from Genesis 31
Even when it gets hard, we can’t lose hope or trust in God! We need to grab a hold of His command and step out in faith to accomplish the work He is calling us to complete, for He is going in advance preparing the good works He has for us to do.
Laban Confronts Jacob and Makes Covenant22When Laban was told on the third day after Jacob had fled,23he took his relatives with him and pursued him a seven days’ journey. Then he overtook him in the hill country of Gilead.24But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, “Watch yourself—lest you say anything to Jacob, good or bad.”25So Laban caught up to Jacob. (Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, so Laban and his brothers pitched their tents in the hill country of Gilead as well).26Then Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done, that you’ve stolen my heart and have driven my daughters away like captives of the sword?27Why did you secretly flee away, and steal from me? Why didn’t you tell me, so I could send you away with joy and with songs, with tambourines and with lyres?28And you didn’t even let me kiss my sons and daughters! “Now, you’ve behaved foolishly.29It is in the power of my hand to do evil with you, but yesterday the God of your fathers spoke to me, saying, ‘Watch yourself—lest you say anything to Jacob, good or bad.’30So now, when you up and left because you really missed your father’s house, why did you steal my gods?”31In response, Jacob said to Laban, “Because I was afraid, for I thought, ‘Suppose you snatch your daughters away from me.’32Anyone with whom you find your gods shall not live. In front of our relatives, identify whatever is yours that is with me, and take it back.” (But Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.)33So Laban went into Jacob’s tent, and Leah’s tent and into the tent of the two maids, but he found nothing. Then he went out of Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s tent.34(Now Rachel had taken the idols, put them in the camel’s saddlebag and sat on them.) So Laban felt around the entire tent but did not find them.35She said to her father, “Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise before you, for I am having the way of women.” So he searched but did not find the idols.36Then Jacob got angry and argued with Laban. Jacob answered and said to Laban, “What’s my crime? What’s my sin that you’ve hotly pursued me?37For you’ve felt through all my things. What did you find? Any of your household things? Put them here, in front of my relatives and yours—so they can decide between the two of us.38These past twenty years I’ve been with you, your ewes and female goats have never miscarried, and I’ve never eaten the rams of your flock.39I didn’t bring you animals torn by wild beasts. I myself would bear the loss. You would require it from my hand, whether stolen by day or stolen by night.40I was consumed by heat during the day, consumed by frost during the night, and my sleep fled from my eyes.41This is how it’s been for me twenty years in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flocks—and you changed my salary ten times!42Had I not had the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, you would have sent me away empty-handed now. But God saw my misery and the toil of my hands and last night He became the Judge.”43In response Laban said to Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters, and the sons are my sons, and the flocks are my flocks. Everything you see is mine. But what can I do for these, my daughters, today, or for their sons to whom they’ve given birth?44So now, come, let’s make a covenant, you and I, and let it be a witness between you and me.”45So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar,46and Jacob said to his relatives, “Gather stones.” So they took the stones and made a pile. Then they ate there on the pile.47Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha and Jacob called it Gal-ed.48And Laban said, “This pile is a witness between me and you today.” That is why its name is Gal-ed,49or Mizpah, for he said, “Let Adonai keep watch between you and me when we are out of one another’s sight.50If you mistreat my daughters, and if you take wives besides my daughters, though no one is with us, look! God is the witness between you and me.”51Laban said further to Jacob, “Behold, this pile, and this pillar which I’ve set up between you and me:52this pile serves as a witness, that I won’t pass by this pillar to go to you, and that you won’t pass by this pile and this pillar to go to me—with evil intent.53May the God of Abraham and the gods of Nahor, the gods of their father, judge between us.” Jacob also made an oath by the fear of his father Isaac.54Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain and he invited his relatives to eat bread. So they ate bread and spent the night on the mountain.–from Genesis 31
God knows! He knows our heart! He knows our thoughts! He knows even the unspoken things! So put your hope and trust in Him! Walk in obedience to His calling in and on your life!
As we continue in today’s reading we see another sending off. In this case it was sending out Saul (aka Paul) and Barnabas out.
Sent Out from Antioch1Now in the Antioch community, there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen (brought up since childhood with Herod the Tetrarch), and Saul.2While they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Ruach ha-Kodesh said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”3Then after fasting, praying, and laying hands on them, they sent them off.4So, sent out by the Ruach ha-Kodesh, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.5When they arrived at Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. They also had John as a helper.6When they had gone throughout the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a man who was a magician—a Jewish false prophet, whose name was Bar-Yeshua.7He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God.8But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.9But Saul, who is also Paul, filled with the Ruach ha-Kodesh, fixed his gaze on him10and said, “O you, full of all deceit and trickery, son of the devil, enemy of all righteousness—will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?11Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind and not see the sun for awhile.” Immediately, cloudiness and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand.12When he saw what had happened, the proconsul believed, because he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.–from Acts 13
God will grant you wisdom. God will grant you a message. If God calls you then answer the call. If God gives you words to speak, speak them with boldness and courage. Let’s see what God had for Paul to say…
Paul’s Message in Diaspora Synagogues13Setting sail from Paphos, Paul’s company came to Perga in Pamphylia. John left them and returned to Jerusalem.14But they passed on from Perga and came to Antioch of Pisidia. Entering the synagogue on the Shabbat, they sat down.15After the reading of the Torah and the Prophets, the synagogue leaders sent to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, speak.”16So Paul, standing up and motioning with his hand, said, “Men of Israel and God-fearers, listen.17The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with an outstretched arm He led them out of there.18For about forty years He put up with them in the wilderness.19And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He gave their land as an inheritance—20all of this took about 450 years. After that, he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet.21Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.22After removing him, He raised up David to be their king. He also testified about him and said, ‘I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do My will.’23“From this man’s seed, in keeping with His promise, God brought to Israel a Savior—Yeshua.24Before His coming, John had proclaimed an immersion of repentance to all the people of Israel.25As John was completing his service, he said, ‘What do you suppose me to be? I am not He. But behold, One is coming after me, whose sandal I’m not worthy to untie.’26“Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham and those among you who are God-fearers, it is to us the message of this salvation has been sent.27For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers—not recognizing Him or the sayings of the Prophets that are read every Shabbat—fulfilled these words by condemning Him.28Though they found no charge worthy of a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have Him executed.29When they had carried out all that had been written about Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb.30But God raised Him from the dead!31For many days He appeared to those who had come up from the Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now His witnesses to the people.32“And we proclaim to you Good News—the promise to the fathers has arrived!33For God has fulfilled this promise to the children—to us—by raising upYeshua, as it is also written in the second psalm: ‘You are My Son. Today I have become Your Father.’34“But since He raised Him up from the dead, never to return to decay, He has spoken in this way, ‘I will give you the holy and sure mercies of David.’35Therefore He also says in another psalm, ‘You will not permit Your Holy One to see decay.’36For after David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he went to sleep and was laid with his fathers and saw decay.37But the One whom God raised up did not see decay.38“Therefore, let it be known to you, brothers, that through this One is proclaimed to you the removal of sins, including all those from which you could not be set right by the Torah of Moses.39Through this One everyone who keeps trusting is made righteous.40“Be careful, then, so that what is said in the Prophets may not come upon you:41‘Look, you scoffers, be amazed and vanish away. For I am doing a work in your days— a work you will never believe, even if someone tells it to you in detail.’”42As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people kept begging them to speak these things to them the next Shabbat.43When the synagogue meeting broke up, many of the Jewish people and God-fearing inquirers followed Paul and Barnabas, who were speaking with them and trying to persuade them to continue in the grace of God.44The following Shabbat, almost the entire city came together to hear the word of the Lord.45When the Jewish leaders saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and tried to contradict what Paul was saying by reviling him.46Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary for the word of God to be spoken to you first. Since you reject it and judge yourselves unfit for eternal life—behold, we turn to the Gentiles.47For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have placed you as a light to the nations, so that you may bring salvation to the end of the earth.’”48When the Gentiles heard this, they were thrilled and glorified the word of the Lord; and as many as had been inscribed for eternal life believed.49Now the word of the Lord spread throughout the whole region.50But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and they drove them out of their district.51But Paul and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet against them, and they went on to Iconium.52And the disciples were filled with joy and the Ruach ha-Kodesh.–from Acts 13
Let’s focus on what God wants us to do and not be judging others. Let’s focus on being obedient to God’s calling on our lives rather than picking on others. Let’s work on the plank in our own eye before trying to remove the speck from someone else’s. Let’s build our lives on the rock of Jesus Christ so that we won’t be shifting because our lives are built on sand.
Today’s reading closes in Matthew and it goes like this…
Measuring Your Measure1“Stop judging, so that you may not be judged.2For with the judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.3“Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the beam in your own eye?4Or how will you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, the beam is in your own eye?5Hypocrite, first take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.6“Do not give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls before pigs; otherwise they will trample them under their feet, then turn and rip you to shreds.7“Ask, and it shall be given to you. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened to you.8For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it shall be opened.9“For what man among you, when his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?10Or when he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?11If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!12So in all things, do to others what you would want them to do to you—for this is the Torah and the Prophets.13“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.14How narrow is the gate and difficult the way that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
Judging the Fruit15“Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.16You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes aren’t gathered from thorn bushes or figs from thistles, are they?17Even so, every good tree produces good fruit, but the rotten tree produces bad fruit.18A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree produce good fruit.19Every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.20So then, you will recognize them by their fruit.21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.22Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, and drive out demons in Your name, and perform many miracles in Your name?’23Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’”
Building on a Firm Foundation24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.25And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house; and yet it did not fall, for its foundation had been built on the rock.26Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.27And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”28Now when Yeshua had finished these words, the crowds were astounded at His teaching,29for He was teaching them as one having authority and not as their Torah scholars.–from Matthew 7