January 10

Genesis 32-34, Psalm 10

Many Americans like to keep all their options open. In college many like to have an undeclared major or change their major as they seek fit. People are getting married much later afraid they will settle too early and miss out on something better. As opposed to previous generations when people would loyally remain in a job for decades, now most skip around every couple of years. People are afraid to commit, feeling they can manipulate the situation to their best advantage. This is part of the reason for the high divorce rate. Though many Christians trust In God, it is easy to trust more in ourselves in making decisions. How often in our complacent, relatively non-persecuted environment are we pushed against the wall with no where to look other than up. Our Christian brothers and sisters in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East are finding themselves in this situation on a frequent basis. Christianity is growing in these areas much more so than in complacent nations like our own.

Jacob was an intelligent, clever, charming, skilled, “self-made man”. We have witnessed Jacob in Scripture as he has effectively manipulated himself in and out of many difficult situations. Though Jacob became a believer in Genesis chapter 28 when he encountered God at Bethel, he hadn’t furthered that relationship. In fact in Genesis 32:9, in prayer he calls out ,” …O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac,…”. Notice he hadn’t yet considered God, his God yet. We see in Genesis 31:52, that Jacob could not return back to life with Laban, “This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not pass beyond this heap to you, and you will not pass beyond this heap and this pillar to me, for harm.” Now on his way back home he must pass through his brother Esau’s territory. He fearfully sends messengers to Esau, who return to Jacob saying in 32:6, “We came to your brother Esau, and he also is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” Backed against a wall, he finally turns to God in prayer, reminding God of His promises to Jacob in 32:12. That night, by himself, we now see him in an interesting wrestling match with Jesus. Jacob, realizing, he needs God’s blessings on his life refuses to let Him go. We read in 32:25, “Now when He saw that He did not prevail against Him, He touched the socket of His hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him.” By doing this, Jacob could no longer run from trouble as he always had, but instead he needed to rely completely on God.

When we find ourselves needing help and answers, do we look horizontally and internally, or do we look vertically. We tend to grow in faith more in the valleys of life than the mountaintops. We can all learn from the example of Hezekiah who as king, in Jerusalem was surrounded by and laid siege by the Assyrian Empire. Outnumbered and with no earthly hope we see his response in Isaiah 37:14, “And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.” He completely turned the situation over to God. In the book of Revelation in chapters 2 and 3, it was the persecuted churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia that relied on Jesus and were commended for their faith. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” If we want to see God act powerfully in our lives we must see ourselves the weak vessels that we are, and yield and depend on the power of Him and Him alone.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Aaron Salvato