God can use all things for His purposes! Ever been in a situation where you didn’t really plan or expect to be there? Ever been in a situation where because of doing things your way, you ended up in a situation you would never have asked to be in? Ever been in a situation where it got tough and unfair and even in the midst of that God showed up and provided? I remember a time clearly. Looking back even though it was a time I would never have asked for, having come out the other side, I would never want to give it up! In that time of pain and trial, being mistreated and lied to, what I learned was the power of forgiveness. It taught me something I have been able to share with others. It taught me something that others who have been betrayed, lied to, or who are going through depression and anxiety can hear about and turn their lives around.
Today’s reading continues with Jacob who tricked his dad and ran away out of fear of his brother’s wrath. Let’s see how he is doing…
Jacob Loves Rachel1Then Jacob lifted up his feet and went to the land of the peoples of the east.2When he looked, suddenly, there was a well in the field, and there were three herds of sheep resting by it. (For from that well they would water the flocks. The stone on the mouth of the well was large.3When all the herds gathered there, they would roll away the stone from the mouth of the well and water the flocks, and put the stone back to its place over the mouth of the well.)4Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where are you from?” “We’re from Haran,” they said.5So he said to them, “Do you know Laban, Nahor’s son?” They said, “We know.”6He said to them, “Is he well?” “Well,” they said. “Look, here comes his daughter Rachel with the flock.”7He said, “Since it’s still the middle of the day, it’s not time for the livestock to be gathered. Water the flock and let them go and graze.”8But they said, “We can’t, not until all the flocks are gathered and the stone is rolled away from the mouth of the well—then we water the flock.”9While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with the flock that belonged to her father (for she was a shepherdess).10Now when Jacob saw Rachel (the daughter of Laban, his mother’s brother), Jacob stepped forward and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered the flock of Laban, his mother’s brother.11Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice and wept.12Then Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s relative and that he was Rebekah’s son. So she ran and told her father.13Now when Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he ran to meet him, hugged and kissed him, and brought him to his house. Then he told Laban all these things.14Laban said to him, “Surely you are my own bone and flesh.” And he stayed with him for a month.15Then Laban said to Jacob, “Should you, my relative, serve me for nothing? Tell me, what should your wages be?”16Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.17Leah’s eyes were delicate, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance.18Jacob was in love with Rachel, so he said, “Let me serve you for seven years for Rachel your younger daughter.”19Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than I give her to another man! Stay with me.”20So Jacob worked for Rachel seven years, yet in his eyes it was like a few days, because of his love for her.21Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my days are completed, so I may go to her.”22So Laban gathered all the men of the place and he prepared a feast.23When it was evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to him, and he went to her.24Laban also gave her Zilpah his female servant to his daughter Leah as a female servant.25So when it was morning, behold there she was, Leah! So he said to Laban, “What is this you’ve done to me? Wasn’t it for Rachel that I worked with you? So why have you deceived me?”26But Laban said, “It’s not done so in our place—to give the younger before the first-born.27Complete the bridal week for this one. Then we’ll also give you this other—for work that you’ll do with me—another seven years more.”28So Jacob did; he also completed this one’s bridal week. Then he gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife.29Laban also gave his daughter Rachel his female servant Bilhah, to be a servant for her.30Jacob also went to Rachel and indeed loved Rachel more than Leah. So he served with him for yet another seven years.
Rivalry Continues With Wives31Now Adonai saw that Leah was unloved, so he opened her womb; but Rachel was unable to conceive.32Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son and named him Reuben because she said, “For Adonai has seen my affliction. Surely now my husband will love me.”33Then she became pregnant again and gave birth to a son, and said, “For Adonai heard that I am hated, so He’s given me this one also,” and she named him Simeon.34Then she became pregnant again and gave birth to a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will join himself to me because I’ve given birth to three sons for him.” For this reason he was named Levi.35Then she became pregnant again and gave birth to a son and said, “This time I praise Adonai.” For this reason she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.–from Genesis 29
1When Rachel saw that she bore no children for Jacob, Rachel was jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me sons—if there are none, I’ll die!”2But Jacob became furious with Rachel and said, “Am I, instead of God, the one who withheld from you the fruit of the womb?”3So she said, “Here’s my maid-servant Bilhah. Go to her and let her give birth on my knees, so that from her I may also build a family.”4Then she gave her maid-servant Bilhah to him for a wife, and Jacob went to her.5Bilhah became pregnant and gave birth to a son for Jacob.6So Rachel said, “God has judged my cause and also heard my voice—and given me a son.” Therefore she named him Dan.7Then Rachel’s female servant became pregnant again and gave birth to a second son for Jacob.8So Rachel said, “I’ve surely wrestled greatly with my sister — also I’ve won.” So she named him Naphtali.9Now Leah saw that she stopped having children, so she took Zilpah her female servant and gave her to Jacob as a wife.10Then Zilpah, Leah’s female servant, gave birth to a son for Jacob.11Leah said, “How fortunate!” So she named him Gad.12Then Zilpah, Leah’s female servant, gave birth to a second son for Jacob.13Leah said, “How happy am I, for daughters have called me happy.” So she named him Asher.14Now during the days of the wheat harvest, Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field and he brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”15But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took my husband away? You’d also take away my son’s mandrakes?” So Rachel said, “That being so, let him lie with you tonight, in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.”16So when Jacob came from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him, and she said, “You must come to me. For I’ve actually hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he lay with her that very night.17Moreover, God heard Leah, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a fifth son for Jacob.18Leah said, “God gave me my reward because I gave my female servant to my husband.” So she named him Issachar.19Then Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to a sixth son for Jacob.20Leah said, “God has presented me a good gift. This time my husband will honor me for I’ve borne six sons for him.” So she named him Zebulun.21Afterwards she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.22Then God remembered Rachel and God listened to her and opened her womb.23Then she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. So she said, “God has taken away my disgrace.”24She named him Joseph saying, “May Adonai add another son for me.”
Jacob Outwits Laban25Now it was after Rachel gave birth to Joseph that Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away so that I can go to my place and to my land.26Give me my wives and my children for whom I’ve served you, and let me go. For you yourself know my labor—that I’ve served you.”27But Laban said to him, “If I’ve found favor in your eyes—I’ve looked for good omens, and Adonai has blessed me because of you.”28Moreover he said, “Name your own price and I’ll pay it.”29Then he said to him, “You yourself know how I’ve served you and how your livestock fared with me.30For you had very little before I came, and it has been busting at the seams in abundance. So Adonai blessed you with my every step. So now, when am I myself going to make something for my household also?”31Then he said, “What can I pay you?” Jacob said, “You don’t need to pay me anything. If you will do this one thing for me, I will shepherd your flock again and watch it:32let me pass through your flock today, removing every colorfully spotted lamb from there and every dark-colored lamb among the sheep as well as the colorfully spotted among the goats—and that will be my salary.33So tomorrow my honesty will testify on my behalf when you come to check on my salary you agreed to. Every one that isn’t colorfully spotted among the goats or dark-colored among the sheep with me, it is stolen.”34So Laban said, “All right! May it be according to your word.”35On that day he removed the colorfully striped and colorful billy goats as well as all the colorfully spotted goats—everyone with white on it—and every dark-colored one among the lambs, and he put them in the hand of his sons.36Then he put a three-day’s journey between them and Jacob, while Jacob was shepherding Laban’s remaining flocks.37But Jacob took fresh white poplar, almond, and plane tree branches, peeled away white stripped sections on them, exposing the white of the branches.38Then he set the branches he had peeled in front of the flocks in the drinking troughs and watering channels where the flocks come to drink. Since they were in heat when they came to drink,39the flocks mated near the branches, and the flocks gave birth to striped, spotted and colorful ones.40Now Jacob separated the lambs and set the faces of the flocks toward the striped ones as well as all the dark-colored ones among Laban’s flocks. Then he set aside the herds for himself and did not put them with Laban’s flocks.41Whenever the strong flocks mated, Jacob put the branches in the watering troughs before the eyes of the flocks, to have them mate near the branches.42But when the flocks were sickly, he did not put the branches down—so the sickly ones became Laban’s and the stronger ones became Jacob’s.43And the man grew exceedingly prosperous and had numerous flocks, along with female and male servants, camels and donkeys.–from Genesis 30
Will you get wisdom from God? When things seem so bad, will you turn to Him? How far down will you spiral down before you turn back to God and do it His ways?
Today’s reading picks up from yesterday in Acts 12…Worry changes nothing! Prayer changes everything! So bring your request before God!
Persecution and Deliverance1Now at that time Herod the king seized some from Messiah’s community to do them harm.2He had Jacob, John’s brother, put to death with the sword.3Seeing it pleased the Judean leaders, he proceeded to capture Peter as well. This was during the Days of Matzah.4After seizing him, he put him in prison, handing him over to four squads with four soldiers each to guard him. He was intending to bring him before the people after Passover.5So Peter was kept in prison, but prayer for him was being offered fervently to God by Messiah’s community.6Now that very night when Herod was about to bring him out, Peter was sleeping—bound with two chains between two soldiers, while guards before the gate were keeping watch over the prison.7Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell. He poked Peter on the side and woke him up, saying, “Get up! Quick!” And the chains fell off his hands.8Then the angel said to him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals,” and he did so. Then he tells him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.”9Peter went out and kept following him—he didn’t know that what was happening with the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.10After they passed a first guard and a second, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them by itself. They went out and walked along a narrow street. Suddenly the angel left him.11When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for real that the Lord has sent His angel and delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Judean people were expecting.”12When he realized this, he went to the house of Miriam, the mother of John (also called Mark), where many were assembled together and praying.13When he knocked on the door of the entrance gate, a maid named Rhoda came to answer.14Although she recognized Peter’s voice, out of joy she did not open the gate but ran in and announced that Peter was standing in front of the gate.15They said to her, “You’re crazy!” But she kept insisting it was so. But they were saying, “It is his angel.”16But Peter kept on knocking. When they opened the gate, they saw him and were amazed!17But he motioned with his hand for them to be silent, and he explained to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. He said, “Go tell these things to Jacob and the brothers.” Then he left and went to another place.18When day came, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter.19After Herod made a search for him and did not find him, he interrogated the guards and commanded that they be led away to execution. Then he went down from Judea and stayed in Caesarea.–from Acts 12
God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine. Put your hope and your trust in Him!
Don’t allow pride to grab a hold of you! Don’t be so arrogant! Be a humble servant of God! Go it His way! Do it His way! Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight!
Take a look at what happened to Herod…
Herod Gets His Due20Now it happened that Herod was furious with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they came to him, united. Having won over Blastus, the king’s personal aide, they began asking for peace—because their country was supplied with food from the king’s country.21On an appointed day, Herod donned his royal robes and, taking his seat upon the throne, began to make a speech to them.22The people were shouting, “The voice of a god and not a human!”23Immediately, an angel of the Lord struck him down—because he did not give God the glory. And he was eaten by worms and died.24But the word of God kept on growing and multiplying.25And Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their service, taking along John (who was also called Mark).–from Acts 12
Let’s give God the glory! Let’s give God the praise! For it is He working in us that makes all things possible! It’s about revealing more of Him and less of ourselves! It’s more about shining the love and hope of Jesus to this world around us! Help us Lord today and always to keep you as our focus, to keep you as the center so that we can live lives that will be glorifying to You!
So as today begins, take time away from everyone and spend it with God! Do what you do in a way that it’s to honk your own horn, but is to glorify God! Let’s put first things first and allow God to be the focus! Today’s reading concludes in Matthew speaking truth and wisdom for us to pick up today and follow after God…
Righteous Living1“Beware of practicing your righteousness before others to be seen by them; otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.2So whenever you do tzadakah, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, so that they may be glorified by men. Amen, I tell you, they have their reward in full!3But when you do tzadakah, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,4so that your tzadakah may be in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, shall reward you.5“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Amen, I tell you, they have their reward in full!6But you, when you pray, go into your inner room; and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, shall reward you.7And when you are praying, do not babble on and on like the pagans; for they think they will be heard because of their many words.8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.9“Therefore, pray in this way: ‘Our Father in heaven, sanctified be Your name.10Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.11Give us this day our daily bread.12And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’14“For if you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.15But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.16“And whenever you fast, do not become sad-faced like the hypocrites, for they neglect their faces to make their fasting evident to men. Amen, I tell you, they have their reward in full!17But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,18so that your fasting won’t be evident to men, but to your Father who is in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in or steal.21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.22“The eye is the lamp of the body. Therefore if your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.23But if your eye is bad, your body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!24“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick by one and look down on the other. You cannot serve God and money.”–from Matthew 6
So don’t worry! Faith is the antidote of fear! So put your hope and trust in God, no matter what comes your way! Allow your trust in God to overcome the fear of the world!
Overcoming Worry with Trust25“So I say to you, do not worry about your life—what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?26“Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your Father in heaven feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They neither toil nor spin.29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.30Now if in this way God clothes the grass—which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow—will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’32For the pagans eagerly pursue all these things; yet your Father in heaven knows that you need all these.33But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”–from Matthew 6