Our God is the Only Reliable Help at Times of Trouble

Distress, discouragement, disappointment, desperation, and disillusionment can distract us from God. They can deviate our focus from God and force us to employ carnal ways to handle life’s challenges. Instead of providing solutions to our problems, such human attempts may only increase worries and even jeopardize everything in our lives. But on the other hand, we can be sure that turning to God at times of difficulties for help, will surely result in positive results. Our thought for our reflection this morning is, “Our God is the Only Reliable Help at Times of Trouble”.

Then Jacob prayed, “… I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordon, but now I have become two groups. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children”
(Genesis 32:9-11)

Genesis 32:9 is the first place where we find Jacob recognizing God as one who was in total control of his situation because he addressed God using His special name, “Yahweh” which is translated in English as “Lord”: “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O Lord..”  

1. Jacob’s reliance on God was due to Jacob's state of helplessness.

Jacob was really fearful and distressed as he approached Esau’s territory. His serious state of helplessness is revealed through his desperate statement, 

“Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me”… Jacob’s frank admission of his fear of Esau was not just for himself but for his family members too"
(Genesis 32:11). 

Thus this prayer of Jacob was nothing but an outpouring of a heart that was torn apart by worries and doubts. Are we currently in a state of helplessness but still struggling to rely on God for help?

2. Jacob’s reliance on God was based on God’s faithfulness in the past.

Jacob’s prayer to God was definitely prompted by fear of Esau too. Through that prayer, he also revealed his deep sense of gratitude to God and his realization of his own unworthiness of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness: 

“I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant”
(Genesis 32:9). 

Jacob recognized the fact that when he crossed Jordon he only had his staff and nothing else. But it was God who had later helped him to “become two groups.” If God has been so faithful and good to us all these years why are we finding it difficult to rely onHim now and for our future?

Just as to Jacob, God was the only hope, to us too, God is the only one on whom we can rely, and He alone would resolve our situations. Let’s pray: 

“Dear Lord, I am what I am, all because of only your kindness and faithfulness. Because of your great love I am not consumed, for your compassions have never failed. You alone know my current helpless state and you are my only reliable help at all times of trouble. Trusting in you and you alone, I determine to continue with my life’s journey.
In Jesus’ name Amen!”

Our God is a God of Reconciliation

Getting along with difficult people and rebuilding broken relationships are neither as easy as we think. Further, if we are the one responsible for straining a relationship, humanly speaking, it could be really difficult to patch up. True, it may not be possible by our own might, will power or strength. But with God’s Spirit living within us andHis gracious intervention, it is possible. In Genesis Chapter 3, when Adam strained his relationship with God through his disobedience, instead of ignoring him, God went in search of him as one who was interested in reconciliation. Our thought for reflection this morning is, “Our God is a God of Reconciliation”.

Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my lord Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, male and female servants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.”
(Genesis 32:3-5)

With regard to Jacob’s relationship with Laban, Jacob was the offended party. But with regard to Jacob’s relationship with Esau, Jacob was the offender as it was he who robbed Esau’s blessings and run away. Thus Jacob was aware that Esau would be holding grudge against him and could be waiting to settle score with him. As someone who had been dealt with by God, Jacob knew how to reconcile with his brother Esau. We learn two key spiritual lessons on reconciliation from Jacob:

1. We need to consider others better than us and approach them with humility in order to mend our broken relationships.

We read in Genesis 32: 3-5, that it was Jacob who took the initiative in seeking reconciliation with Esau by sending his messengers with a message of reconciliation. Jacob referred to Esau as “my master Esau” and “my Lord “and to himself as “your servant Jacob”. Jacob’s initiatives to reconcile, his conciliatory message and subservient language portray him as a humble person who had renounced the superiority that Isaac had once bestowed upon him. Did not Apostle Paul advise us in Philippines 2:3, not to do anything out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility to consider others better than ourselves?

2. We need to cry unto God for His assistance to bring about reconciliation with an aggrieved person.

Jacob was shocked and frightened to know from his messengers that Esau was coming with four hundred men, suggesting that Esau was planning to attack him. Out of fear Jacob, first divided his family and possessions into two camps which reflect his initial human way of handling the situation. But later we read that he trusted in God for a peaceful reconciliation with his estranged brother. Then Jacob prayed, 

“O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O Lord…your servant”
(Genesis 32:9-10). 

Have we prayed enough to God for His intervention in our attempt to reconcile with those who have strained relationship with us?

As our God is a God of reconciliation, He would definitely assist us in our attempts to reconcile with those who have broken relationships with us. Before taking any initiative to reconcile let us first pray for those who hate us and whose relationship with us is now in a very bad state. Let us consider them better than us and with humility approach them for peaceful reconciliation. Let us pray: 

“Dear Lord, remove the pride that is in me. I come before you with humility, asking you to help me to reconcile with those who have strained relationships with me. I commit myself to consider othersbetter than me always. Help me to live in peace with everyone.
In Jesus' name,...  Amen!"

Our God Understands and Helps in Our Struggle to Maintain Good Relationships with Others

Brian Tracy says, 

“Relationships are the hallmark of a mature person.” 

And maintaining good relationship with our close family members, colleagues, fellow brothers and sisters would ever remain as the greatest necessity though it could be sometimes the biggest challenge. As we grow in spiritual maturity and in our relationship with God, maintaining good relationship with others canbecome easier than before. Why? Because God helps us when we seek his help in maintaining good relationship with others. Our thought for reflection this morning is, “Our God Understands and Helps in Our Struggle to Maintain Good Relationships with Others.”

Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him. When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is the camp of God!” So he named that place Mahanaim”
(Genesis 32:1-2)

Jacob’s heated conversation and departure from Laban must have convinced him that there was no possibility of he and his family, ever returning again to Paddan-Aram. At the same time there was no guarantee of a warm welcome from his brother Esau, who had even more reasons for bearing grudge and hatred towards him. Since Jacob had deprived Esau of his father’s blessing, he would have been really worried and feared to face Esau.

1. Jacob was overwhelmed by fear of rejection.

It is very interesting to note that Jacob’s preparation to meet his brother Esau was interrupted by a vision of angels in Genesis 32:1-2. Knowing very well Jacob’s anxious state of mind, the angels from God met him. He could have thought that Esau would reject him for deceiving and robbing him of his father’s blessings. That encounter with the angels could have been a reassurance for Jacob that God was still in control of his relationship problems with his brother and that He would protect him even if he was rejected. Are we often troubled by fears of being rejected by those around us?

2. Jacob was overwhelmed by fear of revenge.

Jacob must have feared that Esau might try to seek revenge for the wrongs he had done to him in the past. He could have thought that not only his own safety was in question but also the welfare of his large family. The report from Jacob’s servants must have doubled his fear: 

“We went to your brother Esau and now he is coming to meet you and four hundred men are with him”
(Genesis 32:6)

“In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups…”
(Genesis 32:7)

Do we fear that those with whom we have relationship problems would take revenge against us?

The visitation of the angels suggests that God could have sent his angels to assist Jacob in his attempt to meet his angry brother Esau and to accompany him safely back to the land of Canaan. The same God would help us too, in our struggle to maintain good relationship with others. Let’s pray: 

“Dear Lord, thank you so much for understanding my fears and weaknesses. You alone know how much I am often overwhelmed by the fear of being rejected and by the fear that people may take revenge against me. Fill me with your grace and confidence in you that I may overcome such fears. Just as you assured Jacob of your presence and assisted him to overcome his fears, help me to overcome my fears of rejection and revenge. Believing that you are going to help me to maintain good relationship with others throughout this day and my life, I begin this new day.
In Jesus’ name,...  Amen”

Our God Alone is the Perfect Judge Who Knows Who is Right and Who is Wrong

Whenever we face a conflict or inter personal issue with a family member or a friend or a colleague or a boss we immediately come to the conclusion that, that person is too difficult a person to live or work or serve with. Our natural tendency is to think how they have caused us difficulty and pain. But the truth of the matter is we too could have been difficult and caused pain to them. Therefore the key thing to do in overcoming conflicts is to start examining ourselves instead of straightaway pointing fingers at others. Our thought for reflection this morning is “Our God Alone is the Perfect Judge Who Knows Who is Right and Who is Wrong.”

“This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not go past this heap to your side to harm you and that you will not go past this heap and pillar to my side to harm me. May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.”
(Genesis 31:52-53).

Throughout the conversation between Laban and Jacob we find nothing but accusations and counter accusations. Each thought that the other had not been fair to him. This blame game only aggravated the conflict and intensified the tension between Jacob and Laban.

1. There was mutual distrust between them.

Laban, considering himself as one who had been duped not only by his son in law Jacob but also by his own daughters, charged Jacob of deception, ingratitude and theft (Genesis 31:28-30). Further, since Laban did not trust Jacob, he was concerned that Jacob might ill-treat his daughters or take other wives beside them (Genesis 31: 49-50). And Jacob, portraying himself as person standing on high moral grounds, accused his father in law Laban, as a cruel task master who had exploited him for twenty years and taken advantage of his kindness (Genesis 31:41-42). Their respective speeches clearly reflect mutual distrust and disrespect for each other. Is there serious distrust between us and any of our family members or colleagues or our superiors?

2. There was mutual displeasure between them.

Laban’s speech was nothing but an expression of his displeasure with Jacob’s secretive departure from his home and his “supposed unfair behaviour” (Genesis 31:26-27). In the same way, Jacob’s speech was nothing but an out pouring of his disappointment with Laban’s “unfair treatment” and exploitation (Genesis 31:36-40). Thus both Laban and Jacob felt aggrieved with each other as they both considered that they had been treated badly. Are we terribly displeased with our family members, friends or colleagues for the way they had been treating us?

God is not going to hold us accountable for the behaviour of others or for the way they have been treating us. But we are accountable to God for our own actions and our right or wrong treatment of others. Just as Jacob and Laban finally decided to leave the matter to God, realizing that He was the true judge, shall we too leave our matters to God. Let’s pray: 

“Dear Lord, you alone know how much I have been hurt by the actions and behaviours of others. You also know that there is much displeasure and distrust between me and them. Forgive me for accusing them for being on the wrong and pardon my failure to realize how much pain and hurt I could have caused them. As you are the perfect judge, I leave the matters into your hand. Help me to examine myself and see where I have gone wrong.
In Jesus’ name,...  Amen!"

Blessed week!

Our God Will Never Allow Us to Go Unrewarded for Our Hard Work

When our good work is not rewarded and appreciated we get discouraged. And we even come to the absurd conclusion that working hard doesn’t really pay. But the Bible clearly tells us that our hard work and sincerity will not go unnoticed and unrewarded by God. Apostle Paul reminds us: 

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
(1 Corinthians 10:31) 

So as Christians, when we work or serve, we are called not to do whatever we do with the expectation of receiving any reward or appreciation but only for the glory of God. That doesn’t mean that our God will not reward us appropriately for our hard work. Our thought for reflection this morning is, “Our God Will Never Allow Us to Go Unrewarded for Our Hard Work.”

“If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you.”
(Genesis 31:42)

Jacob explained to Laban how he had worked hard without even resting or sleeping even when the heat consumed him in the day time and the cold at the night (Genesis 31:40). When Jacob accused Laban of changing his wages ten times during the twenty years of hard work in his house, Laban did not dispute it. Jacob recognized that it was because, God was with him, that Laban did not send him empty handed. Jacob recognized the fairness of God in contrast to the unfair behaviour of Laban:

1. Jacob found His God as the only one who saw his hardship and rewarded him accordingly.

Though Laban subjected Jacob to hardship by making him work night and day without proper sleep, he did not reward him appropriately. But on the other, Jacob recognized that though he came to Paddan Aram all alone and empty handed, God had rewarded him with a big family, cattle and wealth. That’s the reason he said, “God has seen my hardship”. Do we often, ignorantly conclude that no one including God fail to see and understand our hardship?

2. Jacob found His God as the only one who saw his hard work and rewarded him accordingly. 

Laban thought that it was Jacob’s responsibility to work like a slave and that it was his own right to enjoy the fruits of Jacob’s hard work. Jacob went to the extent of saying that Laban even demanded payment from him for whatever was stolen by day or night (Genesis 31:38b). But on the contrary, Jacob said, 

“God has seen… the toil of my hands”
(Genesis 31:42b). 

Are we discouraged that our hard work has never been recognized by those above us and around us?

Did not Apostle Paul tell us:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Jesus Christ you are serving.”
(Colossians 3:23-24)

Let’s pray: 

“Dear Lord, it is true that I get discouraged when my hardship is ignored and my hard work go unrewarded. Thank you for reminding me that you alone see my hardship and hard work. Whether I am rewarded or not, help me to work and serve with all my heart as if I am working for you. As I am serving you and not man, I know that I will receive my due reward from you one day.
In Jesus’ name,... Amen!"

Blessed weekend!

Our God Watches Over Our Interests and Guards Us From Those Against Us

When we keep our eyes fixed on our living God and trust in Him, we need not fear anyone, or anything. We may not know what would be our next challenge or who would be coming against us next but our sovereign God always has a foresight of everything. When our confidence is in God, we can relax and continue quietly with our lives leaving the rest to Him. Even when there is a violent storm outside, we can still sleep within our house in peace. Why? Because, often our God allows the storm to rage but defend and comfort us through His presence and Word. Our thought for our reflection this morning is, “Our God Watches Over Our Interests and Guards Us From Those Against Us.”

The angel of God said to me in the dream, “Jacob.” I answered, “. Here I am.” And he said, “Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made vow to me”
(Genesis 31:11-13)

Laban’s secret attempt to change the odds in his favour, were unknown to Jacob but not unknown to God. He cautioned Jacob and revealed Laban’s secret plans to him through a dream.  Even when the evil motives and designs of those against us may escape us, they cannot be hidden from God.

1. Our God deals with every plot designed against us

God showed to Jacob that the male goats who were mating with the flock were all streaked, speckled or spotted like the very ones Laban had removed from the flocks Jacob was tending. Though Laban had hidden those flocks, the Lord said that He had seen all that Laban had been doing to Jacob. The important truth that the Bible reveals here for our encouragement is that, “When we place our faith in Him no weapons forged against us will prosper. How? Because our God Himself watches over our interests.” Are we unnecessarily worrying and troubled by the supposed secret designs and schemes of others against us?

2. Our God defends us from every attack against us

Laban was furious when he came to know that Jacob and his family had secretly left without informing him. He reacted as if Jacob was a thief and pursued him for seven days before he caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead (Genesis 31:23). But during the journey God warned Laban in a dream- 

“say not a word to Jacob, either good or bad”
(Genesis 31:24)

That seems to be an idiomatic expression warning Laban not to harm Jacob. Thus God defended Jacob and his family from Laban’s hostile intentions. When God is with us as our defense who can be against us?

Shall we look back and recollect the numerous times the Lord has stood for us and defended us from many dangerous situations. The same Lord will continue to deal with every plot designed against us and defend us from every attack of the evil one. Let’s pray: 

“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster passed (Psalms 57:1). Deliver me from my enemies O God; protect me from those who rise up against me (Psalms 59:1). Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me (Psalms 138:7). Thank you Lord for watching over my interests and my life.
In Jesus’ name,...  Amen!"

Our God is Above All Circumstances, Ill Treatments, and Injustices Done to Us

Ill treatment and injustice have become so common in our day to day work and social life. When we face the brunt of ill treatment and injustice, at times, we lose faith in the system and even question God. We fail to remember that when we live in a fallen world such things are common. But we need to always remember that nothing happens without the knowledge of our God. The thought for our reflection this morning is, “Our God is Above All Circumstances, Ill Treatments, and Injustices Done to Us.” 

“You know that I've worked for your father with all my strength, yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times. However, God has not allowed him to harm me”
(Genesis 31:6-7).

Jacob, while explaining to Rachel and Leah the injustices their father had done to him, mentioned how God overturned the circumstances in his favour. In other words, Jacob said that Laban's shrewdness and craftiness could not withstand God's determination to bless Jacob. We understand the following about Jacob's situation and God's control over his circumstances.

1. Jacob was a victim of cheap exploitation.

Jacob said that in spite of he, being a hard worker, his father in law Laban deceived him by not paying what was due to him. He said, 

“... I have worked for your father with all my strength, yet your father cheated me by changing my wages ten times”
(Genesis 31:6, 7a).

While talking about God's intervention, Jacob said, 

“However, God has not allowed him to harm me.”
(Genesis 31:7b)

That reveals that God was in control of the circumstances.  Do we forget that God is in control of our circumstances when we are cheated or not paid well or not appreciated for our good work or exploited by others?

2. Jacob was a victim of mean fraudulent tactics.

Laban tried to keep the best of the cattle for himself. But God was in complete control of what kind of young ones the animals gave birth to. Jacob explained God's ability to be above circumstances in this manner: 

“If he (Laban) said, "The speckled ones will be your wages,' then all the flocks gave birth to speckled young; and if he said, "The streaked ones will be your wages," then all the flocks bore more streaked young. So God has taken away your father's livestock and has given them to me”
(Genesis 31:8-9). 

Do we often forget that God is capable of protecting us from falling as victims to the fraudulent tactics of others?

Let us always remember that whenever we are unjustly treated, we will be powerfully protected by our God. Let's pray: 

“Dear Lord, you alone know how sometimes I have felt as if I have been exploited,  unjustly treated and have become a victim of fraudulent tactics. But I believe that just as you protected Jacob from being harmed by Laban, you would protect me too. I praise you for you are above all circumstances, injustice and ill-treatments done to me. I know that reward for my hard work and sincerity comes from you alone. Give me the grace and wisdom to handle the situations when others try to exploit ordeceive or ill treat me.
In Jesus'  name!...  Amen”

Our God Reveals His Will and Helps Us To Make The Right Decisions In Our Lives

Life is a like a collection of chapters in a book. Every chapter has its own good and bad experiences. Those experiences mostly depend on our decisions. All through our lives, we encounter questions like, “What to do?”, “When to do?”, “How to do?” and “Where to go?” We often think that we are capable of making rational decisions which are good for us and for that we do rely on our gut instinct or common sense. But what decisions we take also depend on what understanding we have of our God. If we consider Him as the owner and Lord of our lives, we will like to make decisions that will please Him. Our thought for reflection this morning is, “Our God Reveals His Will and Helps Us To Make The Right Decisions In Our Lives”.

Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you”
(Genesis 31:3).

We are not sure whether God spoke to Jacob by just seeing the agony of Jacob due to the ill treatment he experienced at his father in law’s house or when Jacob cried out to God explaining of his predicament. But one thing that we know is that God clearly revealed His will regarding the next step in the life of Jacob. From this incident we learn two key principles to know God’s will for our lives.

1. God CONVEYS His will through CIRCUMSTANCES.

If we look at the context of the passage in Genesis 31:1-3, we see that the environment at Laban’s house was not conducive for Jacob to continue to live in his father in law’s house. The Bible says, 

“And Jacob notices that Laban’s attitude toward him was not what it had been”
(Genesis 31:2)

And while speaking to Rachel and Leah, Jacob repeated the same (Genesis 31:5). God does speak through circumstances. Have we ever taken stock of our circumstances to find out what God is speaking to us through them?

2. God CONFIRMS His will through His COMMAND or WORD.

Two times Jacob quoted God’s command to leave Laban’s house and Paddan Aram and to go to his father’s land. Then the Lord said to Jacob, 

“Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you”
(Genesis 31:3). 

Later, while explaining to Rachel and Leah the reason why they should leave Laban’s house, Jacob quoted what God spoke to him in his dream:

“I am the God of Bethel…Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land”
(Genesis 31:13). 

Do we have our regular quiet time to hear Him speaking to us? Are we sensitive to what God has been speaking to us during our quiet time through His Word?

Probably some of us are facing in-conducive circumstances and reflecting on making major decisions in our lives. Let us believe that our God is one who reveals His will and helps us to make the right decisions in our lives. Let’s pray: 

“Dear Lord, Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. For your name’s sake, O Lord preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble” (Psalm 143:10-11). Help me to be sensitive to what you are saying to me through circumstances and your Word. I know that just as you revealed your will to Jacob and guided him, you would guide me too. With that confidence I begin this day. 
In Jesus’ name,...   Amen!”

Our God Will Never Change Even Others Do

Our God Will Bless Our Efforts and Keep Us as a Blessing to Others When Our Ways are Pleasing to Him

When we are in a job we often feel that we have not been rewarded well for the hard work we have put in. In spite of investing much time and financial resources if there is not enough success any businessman will be disappointed. But as Christians we need to always keep in mind that it is God who rewards us and true promotion and success come only from Him. Our thought for reflection this Friday morning is, “Our God Will Bless Our Efforts and Keep Us as a Blessing to Others When Our Ways are Pleasing to Him”.

But Laban said to him, “If I have found favour in your eyes, please stay. I have learned… the Lord has blessed me because of you”
(Genesis 30:27)

When Jacob first arrived in Padan Aram he was a deceptive manipulator who depended on his own abilities and cunningness to achieve what he wanted. But after fourteen years of service for his uncle Laban, we find a huge change in Jacob’s character. Even his cunning uncle Laban saw in Jacob, God’s grace operating and blessing him. Laban even openly acknowledged that it was because of Jacob that the Lord had blessed him. We find two important God pleasing work related characteristics in Jacob:

1. Jacob presented himself as a sincere and righteous worker.

When Laban tried to force Jacob to stay with him by promising to pay good wages, Jacob replied, 

“You know how I have worked for you”
(Genesis 30:29a). 

This reply of Jacob reveals that his conscience was clear that he had not been a lethargic or lazy worker but a sincere worker who had slogged for Laban for fourteen years. Jacob further said, 

“And my honesty will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me”
(Genesis 30:33). 

This shows that Jacob had progressed to the point where he relied upon his righteous conduct to secure blessings and prosperity from God. Are we sincere in the work entrusted in our hands? Are our attitude and ways at work, righteous and honest before God?

2. Jacob presented himself as a faithful worker.

Jacob must have really taken care of his uncle Laban’s cattle very well. That’s the reason he could boldly say to Laban, 

“You know how … your livestock has fared under my care”
(Genesis 30:29b). 

The abundant increase in Laban’s livestock was a testimony to Jacob’s faithfulness in the work given to him. In Genesis 30:31a, Laban asked Jacob, “What shall I give you?” This is like our boss today asking us “How much pay increase you want?” Look at Jacob’s reply, 

“Don’t give me anything”
(Genesis 30:31b). 

Jacob knew that God who had blessed even Laban because of his hard work would reward him too, due to his faithfulness. Would God find us as faithful workers or staff at the place where He has placed us? 

Let’s pray: 

“Dear Lord, thank you so much for the job, ministry or business that you have entrusted in my hands. I am aware Lord that they belong to you and that it is you who has blessed me with them. Help me not to take them for granted. Let those above me and those who work with me see that you are with me. Just as you kept Jacob as a blessing to Laban, keep me as a blessing to every person with whom I work, study, serve and live. Give me the grace to work as if I am serving you with all sincerity, righteousness and faithfulness.
In Jesus’ name,...  Amen.” 

Blessed weekend!

Our God Does not Want Us to be Jealous of Others but to be Contended in Any Situation

Discontentment and jealousy within the family, even among church members, ministry colleagues and business partners are today very common. Jealousy is definitely a killer of friendship and relationships. Is not jealousy a dissatisfaction and disapproval of God’s providential arrangement of our life? Jealousy is often based on inadequate sense of our identity in Christ. Our thought for reflection this morning is, “Our God Does not Want Us to be Jealous of Others but to be Contended in Any Situation.”

When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children or I die”
(Genesis 30:1). 

The cause of Rachael’s discontentment, frustration and jealousy, was her sister Leah’s ability to produce four children and her own barrenness. That caused serious tensions within Jacob’s family. Rachael probably thought that there was something Jacob was not doing as a man that he was supposed do so that she could conceive. Jealousy has two serious consequences:

1.Jealousy AFFECTSrelationships.

Where there is jealousy, there, not only cordial love relationships are threatened but results in conflicts. There was already a serious conflict between Leah and Rachael because of their attempt to win over their husband Jacob’s love. But that conflict worsened due to Rachael’s jealousy due to Leah’s success in bearing four boys when she could not bear even one. Due to Rachael’s jealousy, her relationship with her husband too, was affected. She demanded from Jacob, “Give me children, or I die!” The Bible says that Jacob became angry with Rachael too (Genesis 30:2). Have our relationships with our spouses, siblings, colleagues and friends been seriously affected due to our own discontentment andjealousy over their successes?

2. Jealousy ACTS irrationally.

Where there is jealousy there will be competition. Rachael, in order to win in her competition with Leah, acted irrationally by asking her husband Jacob to sleep with her servant Bilhah so that she could bear children for her (Genesis 30:3). When Bilhah conceived Rachael felt as if she had defeated Leah in the competition. She said, 

“I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won”
(Genesis 30:8). 

Not only Rachael, Leah too acted irrationally by asking her servant Zilpah to sleep with Jacob. Have our irrational acts due to our discontentment and jealousy, widened the gap between us and someone else?

Charles Finney says, 

“When there are dissensions, and jealousies, and evil speaking among professors of religion, then there is great need for a revival. These things show that Christians have got far from God, and it is time to think earnestly of a revival.”

Let’s pray. 

“Dear Lord, revive me and forgive my jealousy and discontentment which have affected my relationship with others. I know that the cure for the sin of jealousy is finding contentment in you. Help me to learn to live with contentment in any situation. Help me to be satisfied with anything that you have provided and give me the contentment and patience to wait for your time to give what I am longing for. Give me the grace to rejoice over the success of others. In Jesus’ name,...  Amen!”

Our God Wants Us Focus on Him During Our Times of Misery

Our God Reaches Out to the Unloved And Despised

The rich, beautiful and the handsome do receive a lot of recognition and respect in the society. In this world, where outward looks and wealth really matter, the rich and the good looking, often seem to have, bigger than life personae. They at times even enjoy special privileges and easily get away with things that other poor and ordinary people can’t. But to the contrary, God stands with the ordinary and poor. Our thought for reflection this Monday morning is, “Our God Reaches Out to the Unloved And Despised.”

“When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, He opened her womb, but Rachael was barren. Leah became pregnant and have birth to a son”
(Genesis 29:31-32)

Genesis 29: 7 says, "Leah had weak eyes but Rachael was lovely in form and beautiful." Verse 8 says, "Jacob was in love with Rachael." Because of her good looks Jacob was attracted towards Rachael and he was willing to work first for seven years and later another seven years without salary in order to marry her. Jacob loved Rachael more than Leah (Genesis 29:30). See how God reached out to Leah, the despised one.

1. God saw her misery.

Marrying Jacob was not Leah's original plan. It was part of the deceptive trick of her father Laban to marry off first his elder daughter Leah before the younger daughter Rachael (Genesis 29:26). But at the end we find Leah becoming a victim in the deal between Laban and Jacob. When Leah was unloved by Jacob, we can imagine how much she would have been hurt. No-one saw her grieving heart but God. Are we feeling unloved, abused, misunderstood and despised by those around us?

2. God showed favour to her.

The Bible says that God opened Leah's womb. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben for she said, 

“It is because the Lord has seen my misery”
(Genesis 29:32)

This reveals that God saw Leah's predicament and showed special favour to her. This also indicates that God is caring and loving to the unloved or despised. Thus, when we are unloved and despised by others, will not the same God love us too?

Probably some of us are going through the same experiences that Leah went through. Are we victims of circumstances? Are we feeling unloved, despised and rejected? Let's pray: 

“Dear Lord, we come before your throne of grace as we are. You alone know how we feel hurt when we are despised and rejected by those around us. We know that just as you involved on behalf of Leah and showed grace to her, you would be merciful to us too. We know that you love us, understand our hurts and will reach out to us. Trusting in you and in your character to reach out to the unloved and despised, I begin this day and this new week. In Jesus' name,...  Amen”

Our God Uses Circumstances to Transform Our Character

Our God Wants Us to Focus on His Eternal Purposes as He Would Take Care of Our Immediate Needs

No employer pays a month's salary upfront to any employee before he or she starts his or her work at the beginning of the month. Without doubting but trusting that the employer would definitely pay the salary at the end of the month, the employee works for a month. But, when it comes to God’s Word or promises, we often doubt or find it difficult to believe them. That's because of our petty, immediate so called earthly concerns. The thought for reflection this Thursday morning is “Our God Wants Us to Focus on His Eternal Purposes as He Would Take Care of Our Immediate Needs.”

Then Jacob made a vow, saying “If God will be with me and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house”
(Genesis 28:20-22)

It is very surprising to find Jacob's doubtful response to God's assurance to provide, protect and to be present with him wherever he went. The conditional nature of Jacob's vow reveals that he was not really firm in his commitment to the Lord. It also shows two flaws in Jacob's character.

1. Jacob DESIRED only physical needs and failed to focus on God's eternal PURPOSES.

God was revealing His plan to bless all the families of the earth through Jacob and his offspring. But it is very sad to see Jacob only thinking about “food for himself to eat and clothes for himself to wear.” Is it not true that when we seek God’s eternal purposes and His Kingdom, all other physical and material needs will be met by God?

2. Jacob DOUBTED God's faithfulness in keeping His PROMISES.

God says, 

“I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
(Genesis 28:15) 

But Jacob seemed to doubt God. That is revealed through these words of Jacob: 

“If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey."
(Genesis 28:20)

In spite of experiencing God's faithfulness all these years, are we still doubting His promises to provide food to eat, clothes to wear, money to spend to meet our needs, wisdom to go forward in business and grace to serve Him?

Preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon says, 

“Every other crime touches God's territory, but unbelief (or doubt) aims at his divinity, impeaches His veracity, denies His goodness, blasphemes His attributes, maligns His character, therefore, God, of all things, hates first and chiefly, unbelief (or doubt), wherever it is.” 

Let's pray: 

“Dear Lord, forgive me for focusing only on my physical needs and ignoring your eternal, divine purposes. Pardon my sin of doubting you in spite of you being a faithful God all through my life. Help me to keepmy heart and mind fixed on your eternal purposes and plans. I determine not to doubt you but to believe in your Word and your promises all through my life!
Amen”

Our God Does Not Give Up Until He Fulfills His Purposes in Our Lives

As we continue to read the book of Genesis it becomes clear that History is nothing but God’s Story told in His own words. That’s because the Book of Genesis tells history from God’s perspective. Our meditation on God’s story helps us to establish and strengthen a strong foundation of faith on which we can build our life. Our thought for our reflection this Wednesday morning is, “Our God Does Not Give Up Until He Fulfills His Purposes in Our Lives.”

“I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
(Genesis 28:15).

God chose Jacob instead of Esau though we do not find any worthy qualities in Jacob. God did have many reasons to reject or discard Jacob but He did not.  During God’s first direct personal address to Jacob in Genesis 28:13-15, He confirmed Jacob’s chosen position in His divine plan, in spite of being found unworthy as per God’s standards. And He repeated to Jacob three key promises that He had made earlier to Abraham, keeping in mind His divine purposes.

1. You will receive my Provision.

Jacob left his home and was living a life, out of step with God. With the aim of bringing Jacob on track, God appeared to him. When Jacob was going with the agenda of finding his wife, God announced that He would provide what was in line with His plan. He said, 

“I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying
(Genesis 28:13).

He further said, 

“All peoples on earth will be blessed through you…”
(Genesis 28:14). 

Do we realize that God’s blessings and provisions in our lives are to bless others and His mission?

2. You will enjoy my Presence.

At a time when Jacob felt lonely, far away from family, God promised him, 

“I am with you…”
(Genesis 28:15a) 

God did not stop there but continued with these words: 

“I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you”
(Genesis 28:15c)

What else does a lonely person need but an assurance that His Creator would never leave him alone?

3. You will experience my Protection.

The pronouncement of blessings on Jacob at Bethel included the promise of divine protection.

God said, “I… will watch over you wherever you go”
(Genesis 28:15b)

God did not promise Jacob that he would not suffer hardships but guaranteed him His divine protection in every situation and every place. Why God promised to watch over Jacob? So that He might fulfill His divine plan. Are we struggling to trust in God’s protection when hardships become unbearable?

Let’s pray: 

“Dear Lord, Thank you so much for not writing me off due to my unworthy character. Forgive me if my ways are out of step with your plans for me. Just as you tried to bring Jacob back to your track, redirect my ways to your path, too. I totally surrender my ways to you, so that you can fulfill your purposes in my life. I begin this day trusting in your presence, provision and protection. Keep me as a blessing to the nations. 
In Jesus’ name,...  Amen.

Our God Today was Once the Faithful God Of Abraham and Isaac

Faithfulness seems to be a rare thing today, in jobs and in relationships. At times, it becomes difficult to find faithful and trustworthy people who can be entrusted with big responsibilities. Mother Theresa once said, 

“God calls us to faithfulness, not to success”. 

It is a known fact that not everyone can sing or preach or teach but all can be faithful. The positive outcome of true faith in God is faithfulness. Our thought for reflection this morning is, “Our God Today was Once the Faithful God Of Abraham and Isaac.”

There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying”
(Genesis 28:13)

Jacob experienced God’s presence very close to him when he was sleeping at a certain place, on the way to Haran. Through that experience God wanted to teach Jacob the valuable spiritual lesson that there was no need for him to snatch blessings from others to be successful. All that he had to do was to yield total control of his life to God and faithfully walk in His ways and He would do the rest in his life. Yahweh’s self-introduction to Jacob as “the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of your father Isaac is significant in two ways: 

1. It signifies the Faithfulness of God to His children.

By identifying Himself as the God of Abraham and Isaac, Yahweh wanted Jacob to know that, being the God of his grandfather and father, His name and His character were bound to them. He also wanted to remind Jacob of how He had been faithful to his ancestors all through their lives. God who had brought out Abraham from Ur to Canaan, met all his physical, social and material needs. The same He did to Isaac too. Probably God was also hinting to Jacob that He was going to be faithful to Jacob too, in spite of his unfaithful behaviour towards his brother Esau. Is it not true that though He has always been faithful to us, we have often failed to be faithful to Him?

2. It signifies the need to Follow in the footsteps of our forefathers.

God, by referring to Himself as the God of Abraham and Isaac, was inviting Jacob to follow their steps. Whenever Abraham and Isaac obeyed God’s commands they were blessed. But whenever they acted on their own by listening to their common sense, they faced serious consequences. Is it not true that the real test of our Christianity isn’t just seen in our Sunday church attendance or our work for God or activities in His name but in our day to day obedience to His Word?

Vance Havner says, 

“God is faithful and He expects His children to be faithful. God’s Word speaks of faithful servants, faithful in few things, faithful in the least, faithful in the Lord, faithful ministers. And all points up to that day when He will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” 

Shall we make a commitment this morning to be faithful in every little thing the Lord has entrusted in our hands? Shall we decide to walk faithfully in the footsteps of Abraham and Isaac by obeying God’s Word? Then our Lord Jesus Christ will find us to be faithful servants when we meet Him face to face one day! 

Blessed day!

Our God Reaches Out to Us at Our Points of Need

Even as we begin a new month, let's take a moment to look back and reflect on God's abundant grace and our own failures at times to live up to His expectations throughout the last one month. Some of us may begin even this new month with many questions, doubts and concerns. Our thought for reflection this Monday morning is, “Our God Reaches Out to Us at Our Points of Need”.

“Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which saw a stairway testing on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it”
(Genesis 28:10-12)

If we look closely at the context of the above passage, we will know that Jacob was not in the right frame of mind when he had that dream. He must have gone to sleep with many questions for which he had no answers. He was literally running away from home especially from his brother Esau who held a grudge against him because his father had given him the blessing that belonged to Esau (Genesis 27:41). 

1. Jacob was filled with fear and sense of insecurity.

Jacob could have felt that his bother Esau might come after him, seeking revenge for robbing his blessings. He could have really felt unworthy to turn to God due to his deceptive and dubious character. But God, understanding Jacob's fear filled state of mind, reached out to him. The stairway or bridge or link between heaven and earth revealed that God was still committed to fulfill His purposes in Jacob’s life. God indirectly assured Jacob that He had not given up on him. Are we in a state of fear and insecurity due to what we have gone through last month?

2. Jacob was filled with concerns regarding his future.

For the first time Jacob left his home and family, with the aim of finding his wife and building his own family in Padan Aram (Genesis 28:5). When Jacob tried to deceive his father and rob his bother of his blessings, he was literally trying to take control of his destiny and make a name for himself. But when he left for Padan Aram, he would not have been sure if he would be successful again. The angels descending from heaven in the dream was a hint of God's assurance of His divine assistance to him. Are we worried about how the new month is going to be for us?

The Lord who reached out to Jacob, would also meet us at the point of our needthroughout this new month. Let's pray. 

Dear Lord, there have been times, when I tried to take control of the affairs of my life, my family, my job, my business and ministry. But, honestly speaking, I have constantly failed! When I look forward to the new month, I am worried about how it is going to be. Just as you assisted Jacob, help me too. Trusting in you, I begin this new month with the confidence that you would reach out to me at the points of need throughout this new month! In Jesus' name,...  Amen!”

God Always Wants Us to Patiently Wait for His Time to be Blessed and to be Successful in Life

It is quite natural for everyone to desire to be blessed and to be successful in life. To fulfill that desire and to come up in life, we may at times attempt to use all kinds of human methods which may not have God's approval. But God knows how to bless us and when to bless us. Our thought for reflection this Friday morning is, “God Always Wants Us to Patiently Wait for His Time to be Blessed and to be Successful in Life.”

Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game so that you may give me your blessing”
(Genesis 27:19)

Jacob is a typical example in the Bible of a man who uses all kinds of human, dubious, not-God-approved ways to be successful in life. He even went to the extent of giving a spiritual colour or dimension to justify his wrong methods to be successful. 

1. Jacob deceived his father in order to receive his earthly blessings.

It is very surprising to find Jacob's mother Rebekah, teaching him how to deceive his father. 

She said to Jacob, “So I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies”
 (Genesis 27:9-10)

Wearing the clothes of Esau and disguising like his brother, Jacob served his father the food cooked by his mother, and succeeded in receiving the blessings of the firstborn. God's blessings promised to Abraham were of international dimension in the blessing to the nations and Jacob was supposed to be the one to be the channel of those blessings. But he failed to wait for them to be fulfilled but was interested in the immediate benefits in the family circle and in farming. Are we rushing to become successful through our own ways instead of waiting for God to bless us?

2. Jacob deprived his brother of his blessings in order to be successful.

God had already promised that it would be not Esau but Jacob who would carry forward the blessings, promised to Abraham. As such, there was no need for Jacob to rob his brother of blessings which were due to the eldest son. In fact the traditional family blessings that Jacob and his mother Rebekah valued so highly were irrelevant to Jacob's life. It is also very sad to see Jacob, tricking his elderly father, depriving his brother of his blessings and running away with something that did not belong to him. When Jacob robbed Esau of his blessings, Isaac told Esau, 

“Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessings”
(Genesis 27:35)

Are we jealous of the success of others or graving for the blessings that God has reserved for others like Jacob?

Are we often being tempted to use all kinds of human, worldly methods to be successful in life like Jacob? Shall we commit to live a life of faithful trust in God and wait patiently for him to bless us and give us success in life? Let's pray. 

“Dear Lord, forgive me for using my own human methods and ways to be successful in my life, business and ministry. Help me to be faithful in whatever job, business or ministry that you have entrusted in my hands. I will patiently wait for you to bless me andmake be successful in everything I do! In Jesus' name,...  Amen!”

Blessed weekend

Our God Helps Us to Make Peace with Those Who are Against Us, When He is Pleased with Our Ways

Misunderstandings between family members, colleagues and co-workers are quite common. Such misunderstandings do not not always lead to serious conflicts but often create tension in relationships. When two people have misunderstandings a cold war breaks out between them and they literally try to avoid each other. But as Christians it is very important for us to live in peace with everyone. The writer of Hebrews says, 

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy, without holiness no one will see the Lord”
(Hebrews 12:14). 

Our thought for reflection this Thursday morning is, “Our God Helps Us to Make Peace with Those Who are Against Us, When He is Pleased with Our Ways”

“Meanwhile, Abimelech had come to him (Isaac) from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away”
(Genesis 26:26-27)

It is very surprising to find Abimelech, king of the Philistines, who earlier, angrily sent away Isaac, forced to make peace with Isaac. This is definitely God’s doing. Genesis chapter 26 suggests two reasons for this sudden interest of Abimelech to make peace with Isaac.

1. Abimelech saw that God was with Isaac.

Earlier, King Abimelech saw Isaac as a rival and as a foreigner who was robbing the lands and wells of the people of Philistines. But later when King Abimelech saw Isaac being successful in digging new wells for himself wherever he went, and being successful, He realized that He enjoyed an unusual divine favour. 

The King and his officials said to Isaac, “We saw clearly that the Lord was with you, so we said, ‘Let us make a treaty with you’ 
(Genesis 26:28)

Thus it was when Abimelech recognized that God was with Isaac that he came to make peace with him. Can those around us especially those who have misunderstandings with us, see that God is with us?

2. Abimelech saw that God blessed Isaac (26:29).

Abimelech realized that Isaac’s success in digging his own wells was not just the result of his hard work but divine blessing. Thus he openly confessed to Isaac this way; 

“And now you are blessed by the Lord” 
(Genesis 26:29b)

In Genesis 21:22, when King Abimelech recognized that God was with Abraham and blessed him, he made peace with him. In the same way when King Abimelech saw that God blessed Isaac, he came to make peace with him. Are those who are against us or those who have misunderstandings with us, able to see that God is blessing us and everything that we are doing?

King Solomon said in Proverbs: 

“When the LORD takes pleasure in anyone's way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them” 
(Proverbs 16:7)

Are we sure that God is happy with our ways? Can we be sure that God is with us and His divine favour and blessings are upon us to the extent that even those who are against us can see? Let’s pray. 

“Dear Lord, help me to live in such a way that those who have misunderstandings with me, can see that you are with me. I confess that without you being with me and you blessing me, I cannot be successful in my life. Give me the grace to make peace with everyone including those who are against me. Let my ways be always pleasing unto you. In Jesus’ name,... Amen!”