Wrestling

April 24, 2014

 

The Wrestling Match

 

Genesis 32:24: A man came and wrestled with him until dawn.

 

Karin lay in bed thinking. From somewhere deep in her mind, she heard the words, “Go ahead, give the proposal to your friend, Stacey. No one will know, and you will help her.”

A second voice spoke: “You know that’s cheating, Karin. You know that displeases God.”

 

“But Stacey is having a hard time this week. Shouldn’t I help her?” the first voice said.

 

And the second: “You can help Stacey by spending some time showing her how to fix the original proposal. That’s a better way.”

 

And so it went. Sometimes we “wrestle” in our minds with God about things we want to do but which we know are wrong. Jacob experienced a similar wrestling in this story in the Bible. He was afraid of his brother, and he worried that he would die. God came to him and wrestled with him about the right thing to do. In the end, God changed Jacob’s name from “cheater” (which is what “Jacob” means) to “Israel,” which means “One who struggles with God.”

 

Do you ever see your Christian life as a struggle? Well, the truth is, it often is a struggle. Forces all around us fight for our loyalty and love. Who will you love most – God, the devil, or yourself? That’s the struggle!

 

Prayer: Jesus, let me make the right decision to follow you today. Amen.

Trickery

April 23, 2014

Tricking Dad

 

Genesis 27:9: Go out to the flocks and bring me two fine young goats. I’ll prepare your father’s favorite dish from them.

 

Dad stepped in the front door and yelled for Jesse. “Get down here,” he called.

 

Jesse hurried down the stairs and stood in front of his dad. “You lied to me,” he cried. “You paid your friend Bill to clean up the garage. But I asked you to do it. You lied to me.”

 

Jesse hung his head. “I didn’t want to do it. I’m sorry.”

 

“Trickery! Lying! It’s a bad way to live,” his dad said. “Now go apologize to Billy for using him.”

 

Jesse clomped off, feeling guilty and miserable.

 

Trickery! Lying! Some of us do it all the time. You even find such things in the Bible. In this story, Jacob and his mother tricked his father into giving him the blessing that his father intended to give to his brother, Esau. It cost Jacob dearly, for he soon had to run away to the north and live with relatives because Esau threatened to kill him.

 

 

Do you ever lie to your friends, your spouse, your boss(or anyone else)? Do you use trickery and deception to get what you want? Stop! Confess it to God and start being honest. It’s a trap of the devil which he will use to destroy you, if he can. 

 

Prayer: Lord, let me not use trickery and lying to get my way. Ever. Amen. 

God Provided

April 22, 2014

God Provided the Sacrifice

 

Genesis 22:8: “God will provide a lamb, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both went on together.

 

Imagine this situation. One day your old father comes into your room. “Come with me,” he says. “God has asked me to do something important.”

 

He takes you out to a high hill. There, he ignites a fire and soon flames shoot up from the wood. Then he asks for your hands. You stick them out. He ties them up, and then ties up your feet. “What are you doing?” you ask.

 

“God wants me to sacrifice you on the fire to prove I really love him,” your dad says.

 

You are terrified. Your dad helps you up. He’s about to throw you on the flames, when God stops him. “Here,” God says, “here’s a loaf of bread you can put into the fire. But now I know you really believe.”

 

Crazy – right? But it actually happened. God told Abraham to sacrifice his son to prove his faith. At the last minute, God provided a ram to use instead.

 

God has also provided the perfect sacrifice for everyone. No one ever need fear that God will ask this again. Jesus was the sacrifice, and when we believe in him we prove our faith. Have you proven yours by believing in Jesus? If not, do so today!

 

Prayer: Father, thank you that Jesus died for me. I do believe. Amen.

The God Who Sees

April 21, 2014

The God Who Sees

 

Genesis 16:13: Thereafter, Hagar referred to the LORD, who had spoken to her, as “the God who see me!” for she said, “I have seen the One who sees me!”

 

Have you ever felt like no one cares about you? Like you don’t matter to anyone?

 

Everyone has those feelings now and then. For Hagar in this story in the Bible, the feelings were intense. A slave, her owner Sarah, wife of Abraham, had allowed her to bear a special child for Abraham. This was an old practice. When a woman couldn’t have children, she often allowed a slave or servant to bear children that she’d adopt. In Hagar’s case, Sarah’s jealousy when Hagar became pregnant upset the whole house. Hagar ran away. She felt alone rejected, and hated.

 

But Hagar lived in a special house: Abraham’s. God had chosen to bless Abraham in many ways, and those in his house would be blessed as well. God “saw” Hagar in her misery and visited her. He told her to go back to Sarah, and things would improve. Hagar reacted with the words, “You are the God who sees me.” God knew about her trouble, and helped her.

 

Do you ever think that God sees you? He knows all about your problems, your hurts, your worries. Like Hagar, if you turn to him for help, he will answer. God never turns anyone away who seeks his love and friendship.

 

Prayer: Jesus, I know you see me. Let me never forget that you care. Amen. 

Out of Money

April 21, 2014

Out of Money

 

what can I do now

the money is gone

the accounts are empty

I have some gold

some silver in the

safe deposit box

it will not last long

I can’t get a job

I’ve applied everywhere

the recession remains

the market is empty

we eat we drink we sleep

but how long can it last

if I can’t pay the mortgage

if I can’t pay for groceries

if we really come to bottom

dead bottom

nowhere to look to but up

where will You and I be

when we reach that passageway

my parents are gone

the inheritance is spent
no one to go to

am I one of those who must

go to the church and beg

for a few cans of food

please I need You to say something

give me some assurance

give me something strong

and hard

and sure

to hold onto

yet I feel You say nothing

why are You so often silent

why do You look at us

know all we do

all we say

and You remain unmoved

seemingly uncaring

like David said

how long O Lord

will You forget me forever

You are love

it says in 1 John

twice

where is it in my days

where can I grasp it

my children look up to me

I’m hungry Daddy

I need some new clothes Daddy

I love you Daddy

but I hurt so bad

we have never been in this place

no money at all

I feel broken and forsaken

and deserted

all those things

You said you would never

forsake or desert me

You would never

do the things the world does

to the lost

You would never do to me your child

or any of Your children

the things I have seen

families taken to the end

believers murdered in Iran

and North Korea

I know

I know You say You are with us

to the end

but the world teems with

broken forsaken hurting Christians

what am I to do then

after the last check is written

the last dime cast to the cashier

the last hope dying

before my eyes

I’m sorry to complain

I don’t do it much

but sometimes I just

have to blurt it out

this is serious

where are You God

where the heck are You

Go!

April 20, 2014

What We Do When We Have Faith

 

Genesis 12:1: Then the Lord told Abram, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s house, and go to the land I will show you.”

 

Imagine this. One day God says to you, “Go up to your class in school. Stand on your desk and tell the kids the gospel. Don’t be afraid. I will be with you.”

Wouldn’t that be incredible? “Well,” you say, “I’d probably be scared out of my wits. And everyone would think I’m totally weird.”

 

But what if God himself told you to do this?

 

It has happened before in history. One of the first great examples comes from Abraham. One day God told him to leave his country and go to a land God promised to show him. The Bible shows us that Abraham obeyed, and he became the father of the Jews.

 

There will always be times in our lives when God asks us to do things that make us fearful. “I want you to be a missionary.” Or, “Go to the school bully and tell him about me.” Or, “Invite your weird neighbor over for lunch.”

 

It could happen to you today. Be listening. God is there, and he wants to use you to change his world.

 

Prayer: Jesus, help me to listen for your voice. I want to follow you. Amen.

SIck Child

April 20, 2014

A Sick Child

 

we sit by her bed

in the chilly room

in the hospital ICU

my ten-year old darling

sick very sick

near the end perhaps

the child of my old age

please don’t let her die God

I couldn’t stand it

please don’t let this leave scars

I know what You have done

to me in past years

clinical depression

marital separation

a custody battle

divorce

broken ministries

it all hurts so deep down

I don’t want anyone in my family

to go through that

though I know they will

because that’s what you do

to make us grow

transform

become more like You

yes but please

let none of that come

to my little one

please God make this

all go away please tell

me it will be all right

yes I have my Bible

I know the passages

the promises

trust Me

walk with Me

look to Me

I will be with you

through the fire

and the burgeoning rivers

but sometimes

all that can be so distant

and doesn’t really happen

or seem real

I need Your closeness

Your presence

Your hug and quiet kind words

I need You to slip down

right into this old heart of mine

and speak

speak

hold me remind me

of the things I know

but need to know all over

again

above all please tell me

this will not end badly

please give me that

I’m at the end God

we all are

all we have is You

there is no other

no other place to go

where there are words

of eternal life

like Peter said to Jesus

I feel that Lord

I know it

so please assure me

it’s worth it to follow You

unto death

just one more time

Sometimes God Hurts

April 19, 2014

Sometimes God Hurts

Genesis 6:6: So the LORD was sorry he had ever made them. It broke his heart.

 

Can people hurt God? Can God feel pain?

 

According to this verse of the Bible, he can. Here, the world had turned into a murderous, lying, cheating, stealing mess. People destroyed others for their own gain. Sin happened everywhere.

 

When God looked down and saw it, Genesis 6:6 says he “was grieved.” That means he mourned, he felt deep pain in his heart over the things people did. He couldn’t simply ignore it. He couldn’t go away for a rest and forget about it. He couldn’t start beating up on them as they sinned.

 

No, God hurt and he had to do something. In this case, he would send a flood that would destroy the world.

 

But what about you? What does God do when you sin? God probably won’t flood you out. But he will discipline you. He will convict you and tell you gently what you’re doing is wrong. He’ll try to get you to change and become a better person.

 

Are you disobeying God? Have you hurt others? Stop! Today! Refuse to live an evil, hateful life, and go to God, asking him to help you live rightly.

 

Prayer: Lord, keep me from sinning. I want to please you. Amen.

I Remember

April 19, 2014

I Remember

 

I remember O God

You healed me in sickness

so many times

You led me through tough times

so many times

You spoke to me and comforted

me in loss and the deaths of

loved ones

many many times

You were there always

even when it didn’t seem that way

You spoke

You opened doors

You led me to my wife

it was always You

all You

I will never forget

I will worship You forever

even when I distrusted You

even when I called on You

and You didn’t seem to answer

still You were there

let me not go to the grave

without calling on Your name

for You are good

You last forever

for that reason I know I will also

You will not leave my soul

in Sheol where we go

until You bring us to You

You will bring me

all of us to Your home

without hesitation

without a flinch

without thinking how unworthy

we all are

The Awful Power of Anger

April 17, 2014

The Awful Power of Anger

 

Genesis 4:6: “Why are you so angry?” the LORD asked him. “Why do you look so dejected?”

 

Everyone gets angry sooner or later.

 

Your friend steals one of your favorite paintings. You’re ready to punch her lights out. She said she only meant to borrow it. But then you saw it being sold on eBay.

 

Your kids mess up the kitchen. You want to smack them upside the head.

 

Anger can strike in an instant. One second we’re laughing, and the next we’re ready to kill.

 

In this story about Cain in the Bible, we see a man who was angry. Why? Because God rejected the offering he brought (he gave God the shriveled, useless vegetables). God accepted his brother Abel’s offering, and that only made it worse.

 

Cain’s anger would lead him to kill his brother.

 

All through the world you’ll find angry people. Some commit horrendous acts like terrorists, murderers and abusers. Anger can be controlled, though, and overcome. How? With the help of God, a desire to obey him, and a commitment to his leadership. Ask God for his power, and God promises to give it.

 

Prayer: Father, teach me to control my anger. Let me never hurt others. Amen.


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