It’s amazing how many of our familiar Bible stories are in Genesis. The stories today we learned as a child. Yet as always, the simple stories have more meaning as we discern beyond the surface.
Do you remember how God gave Abraham a visual of the stars and the dust of the ground so that his faith would increase for his inheritance? Well, we see here that He does the same for Jacob.
Jacob is getting ready to leave Laban and return to Canaan. He has worked for Laban now for twenty years, and Laban’s flocks have been blessed because of God’s man being there. Now Jacob asks Laban to give him all of the spotted and speckled goats and sheep. And Laban agrees.
So Jacob peels tree limbs in stripes and puts them before the animals’ water troughs. The visual causes the goats and sheep to produce spotted and speckled offspring, so that Jacob’s flocks increase tremendously. I think that the visual is for Jacob, and not the animals. As Jacob looks at the striped and speckled tree limbs, his faith is increased tremendously, and his faith produces.
Is there something you are believing God for? Family? Provision? Health? As you are praying, keep your eyes focused on where you are going and not where you are, and your faith will be increased also. What we see greatly affects our belief system.If it takes looking at a picture, then do it.
So Jacob, his two wives, and all of his entourage start the journey back to Canaan. He first makes a pact with Laban; now he is approaching Esau. This is the big one. This is the brother whose birthright he stole, so Jacob is very afraid.
As he plans his approach, Jacob has an interesting encounter with an angel. He wrestles with the angel, and won’t let him go until this angel has blessed him.
I think of this as the Old Testament version of “ask, seek, and knock.” The Lord says that everyone who keeps on asking, seeking, and knocking will receive from the Lord. That’s what we see Jacob doing here. He is determined to receive the Lord’s blessing and won’t let go until he does.
While many others may have been casual about the blessing of the Lord, we see here a man who strives for it. He obviously considers God’s blessing to be something of great value. As a result, he gets what he is striving for.
Do you honor God’s blessing, or are you casual about it? Is His blessing something that you diligently seek? God is still looking for people who greatly honor that blessing. And He is still blessing those who do!
Jesus is continuing to instruct His disciples for their mission. They are to represent Him as they go out.
He introduces some deeper concepts than we have encountered thus far. He says that there will be persecution as they go. Even close family members will turn on the disciples and attempt to bring them harm.
So what does He mean? Of course, we see in some places around the world where Christians are persecuted violently – even killed because of their beliefs.
Yet anywhere we live, when we are following Jesus closely, there will be persecution. Maybe not death, but other forms of persecution. Open your eyes and you will see that when evil is trying to prevail, Christians are always the ones taking the brunt of the campaign.
Why is that? It’s because hovering over our world is a spiritual world which tries to control things. That spiritual world is led by the devil and his demonic forces, in a war with God. They speak to people who will listen, and their entire purpose is to overthrow God and His Kingdom. So Jesus and His followers are His aim. They try to twist everything that God says and to mock His believers.
Yet God’s Kingdom is the one which will win in the long run. When thoughts come to you not to believe God and His Word, don’t listen. In fact, speak to the thoughts out loud and tell them that you believe God and all that he says. You belong to Him, and Him alone. You will not listen to voices which come against your Father in Heaven.
Heavy stuff, huh? It is heavy, but it’s important that we understand what’s going on. Only then are we able to discern good and evil, and to overcome.
So may the overcomer in you be blessed today!