4/14/21 Becoming a Drink Offering: Stepping into Your Prophetic Destiny

Yesterday, we discussed the importance of prioritizing family when seeking God to release us into our prophetic destinies. We explored how Jacob immensely failed in this area regarding Dinah. However, we serve a God of redemption, and today, I want to look at what God and Jacob did to restore proper balance in Genesis 35.

It appears Jacob finally gets the brilliant idea to consult God on the entire issue, and while Scripture does not record his prayer, we do find God’s response. Remember Bethel? Where Jacob first encountered God? Where angels descended and ascended to heaven? God tells Jacob to return to that place and settle there (Gen. 35:1). The idea is that God is telling Jacob to return to the site where he entered into covenant with God, where he first obtained the promise, and dwell or “sit down.” God is putting Jacob in what I term a “Divine Time-Out.” It’s during this time that Jacob begins to take charge of his family.

In Genesis 35:2b-3, Jacob states,

“Get rid of your foreign gods that are among you.

Purify yourselves and change your clothes. We must get up and go to Bethel. I will build an altar there to the God who answered me in my day of distress. He has been with me everywhere I have gone.”

So, when we screw up, we see a pattern we can emulate in Jacob.

  1. Rid ourselves of any idolatry, including any misconceptions we may have of our own importance.
  2. Consecrate ourselves to God, reminding ourselves that when we repent, we become clothed in the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).
  3. We enter into covenantal worship.

When Jacob’s household followed his instructions, the fear of God came upon the surrounding people that no one pursued them, despite his sons’ actions.

Please notice that he returned to Luz, where the promise was made to Abraham and later with Jacob. Returning is a powerful thing in Scripture. Whenever we forsake the world and return to God, we are realigning ourselves with God’s plans and purposes for our life, as well as our family. Notice, too, that Jacob didn’t change the name; instead, he retained it, knowing that revelation knowledge comes out of covenant relationship (Gen. 35:7). Once more, God appears to Jacob, and His appearance is lovely, teaching us something of God’s character and nature.

In this moment, where Jacob is undoubtedly feeling shame and remorse, God appears and reemphasizes that He still calls Jacob by his new name – Israel. Praise God; He doesn’t abandon us at our lowest point! Rather, God reiterates who He is in Him. Not only that, God reiterates that the calling is for the entirety of the family. Yes, even those hard-hearted boys who were out for blood! God repeats His promise of land to Jacob. You see, repentance isn’t a punishment. It is a gift. It is a gift of reconciliation to God Almighty, who then, instead of giving us what we so justly deserve, reinforces our new identity in Him. The key is always repentance.

In this context, Jacob once again sets up a marker, pours out a drink offering, and anoints it with oil. We repent, God comes near, and we come to a significant realization that God alone is worthy. Like the Apostle Paul, we must be poured out like a drink offering, and our names become of little or no significance, no matter what our prophetic destiny holds. Like streams in a desert absorbed by the sand, so too, our lives must be poured out in faith, no matter the sacrifice, trusting that God will take it and use it all for His glory (2 Tim. 4:6).

Jacob learned his lesson well, because immediately following this encounter with God, his beloved Rachel dies in childbirth. Rather than leaving her son with the name Ben-oni, Son of My Sorrow, Jacob refuses to allow his son to be identified with the situation surrounding his birth as Jacob had been. Jacob renames his son, Benjamin, meaning Son of the Right Hand. At this moment, Jacob truly begins to step into his prophetic destiny as Israel – when he acts towards his son in the same manner God has worked in him by providing Benjamin with a new name. What a beautiful picture of the redemptive power of a parent’s love! You, as a parent, can redefine what is transpiring in your home by acting towards your spouse and children as God has acted towards you. And notice it didn’t stop there. Afterward, Jacob returns to his father, Isaac, again prioritizing family and comes together with Esau to bury him. Jacob has come full circle, and God has made true on His promise to return Jacob home, making a place for him (Gen. 36:6-8).

Every foundational element you need for stepping into your prophetic destiny is not found outside but inside the four walls of your home. It takes character and determination coupled with the presence of God to lead a family. It is the first proving ground of all that God wants to release through you. In Deuteronomy 11:18-21, we are admonished,

“Therefore you shall lay these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.”

God doesn’t just care about what you do but about who you are at the most basic level, which is seen most clearly in familial relationships. Family matters. God’s desire is that you not only be blessed but that the blessing is multiplied exponentially with each generation. Remember, God’s plans and purposes transcend our lifetime, and it is our primary duty to see that covenantal relationship with the Lord is passed down by training and equipping our homes in the ways of God. If things are difficult in your home right now, remember, God doesn’t give up, neither should you. Jacob’s family survived murder and rape to walk out God’s plans and purposes for them. Yours can survive and thrive, too.

Let’s Pray:

Father, I come before you today, purified by the blood of Jesus, to consecrate myself to You. Lord, I want to partner with you to see generations transformed by the cross’s saving power and renewed covenant relationship with You. I will begin with where I am, here at home. Give me the grace and wisdom to lead my family into covenant with You so that every new generation has a revelation of Your plans and purposes not only for them but for the world. I want our entire family to be known as world-changers. God, I pour out myself as a drink offering to Your service and what You desire. Please help me to learn this lesson well. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

4/13/21 Family Matters: Stepping into Your Prophetic Destiny, Pt. 15

If there’s proof that the flesh refuses to quietly go when we step into God’s call on our life, it is Jacob’s reaction to what I have termed the “Dinah Debacle,” in Genesis 34. Putting it bluntly, Shechem, son of Hamor, rapes Jacob’s daughter, Dinah. Today, we do not find rapists falling over themselves to marry their victims, but that’s precisely what Shechem does, even getting his father’s assistance.

Now there are no words to describe what happened next. We are told in verse five that Jacob justified staying silent about Dinah’s rape because his sons were out in the field. Perhaps had he refused to remain quiet, things would have gone differently. However, when the boys return home, it states that they were “grieved and angry,” an emotion not attributed to Jacob, and his sons, like their father before them, deal deceitfully with Hamor and Shechem. The boys trick the city’s men into circumcision and then murder them and plunder the entire town.

What is incredibly sad in this story is that Jacob refuses, once again, to take responsibility. He attempts to circumnavigate the issue by involving his other children. He doesn’t even think to take the matter before the Lord with whom he has entered into covenant. No, Jacob is silent – at least until the damage has been done.

One of the most critical aspects of stepping into your prophetic destiny is learning how to lead your family during the good times and bad. Jacob spectacularly dropped this ball, and his daughter was the victim not only of Shechem but of her own father’s unwillingness to confront the issue. If you do not deal with your character flaws, you may end up facing them in your children, which is precisely what Jacob’s sons’ duplicity was – a reflection of their father. Problems in the home reflect its leadership – ouch! I know what that is for me and, I’m guessing, for you, as well. Self-indictment.

God requires us to take personal responsibility for those things that He places into our care, and first and foremost, that is our family. What’s the Scriptural basis for this? Genesis 18:17-19 records,

“And the LORD said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.”

God knew that Abraham had the basics down; God could trust Abraham’s family to him. He was going to lead them first and foremost. They were Abraham’s priority. When you get things out of order by putting God’s promise of your destiny before God’s desires for your family hinders that promise from coming to pass. God could only bring His purposes for Abraham to pass because Abraham was trustworthy regarding his family. We see this emphasized by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians when he first addresses their relationship to God, then their spouse, followed by their children, and then trailed by relationship to their employer. God will not bless anything when we have gotten it out of order, whether it’s putting our children before God or our work before family relationships.

And that is one of the most horrifying things about Jacob’s reaction. His daughter is raped, and he does nothing. When the deed is done, he blames his sons, claiming, “You have brought trouble on me, making me odious to the inhabitants” (vs.30). He has made it all about him and his reputation. Meanwhile, Dinah’s defiled and hurting, and his sons are justifying their actions, “Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute!” (Vs. 31). The problem wasn’t with Jacob’s children; it was with himself and his inability or, shall we say, unwillingness to rule his household.

Look, Jacob is back in the land of promise, and Hamor discusses with him the prospect of intermarrying and Jacob owning land IF Jacob will give his daughter up to Shechem. Jacob may have been thinking that God allowed this so that he could obtain the land God promised. Remember, several lessons ago, I mentioned that God is calling your entire family, not just you. But make no mistake, God never does anything out of order, and God would never allow Jacob to receive the promise at Dinah’s expense.

Today, the enemy is seeking to sway us from the covenant promises of God for our homes and nation at the expense of our children. We, as people of God, cannot allow that to happen. Our homes and the family altar are our first lines of defense. We must have things in order if we are to step into all that God has destined for us. God abhors child sacrifice in all forms, particularly when it’s done in His Name. Let’s be a people of integrity who are willing to confront the rape of our children at the Word of the Lord and to do so with boldness! How we do that is tomorrow’s topic.

Let’s Pray:

Heavenly Father, forgive me for getting things out of whack and putting my calling ahead of those that matter – my family. I have sought Your prophetic blessing, all while abandoning my primary calling to be a leader of integrity within my family. Today, I repent. Today, I determine to keep things in their proper place. I will keep You first, prioritize my relationship with my spouse and children, and then work, knowing that I can trust You to provide. Teach me how to balance every relationship You’ve entrusted to my care Your way. When I get things out of order, remind me and bring my life back into divine order. I want to honor You, Lord. I want my family to glorify You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

4/9/2021 Investing in God’s Promise: Stepping into Your Prophetic Destiny, Pt. 14

After being given his new name, Israel, Jacob meets face-to-face with his brother Esau. Now there are some differences of opinion regarding whether Esau kissed his brother or tried to bite him in Genesis 33:4. However, the common consensus is that Esau did not wholeheartedly forgive his brother, Jacob. Esau still “remembers when,” and these types of individuals create barriers when pursuing God’s purpose for your life, particularly when you have a past, and Jacob did. Even Jesus, eternally perfect, could not perform many miracles in Nazareth because people had constructed a box around His identity and refused to allow it to change. Sometimes all others can see is who you were, not who you are.

When Jacob convinces Esau to accept his gift, Esau insists that Jacob come with him to Seir. After some discourse, Esau leaves without Jacob. However, instead of following Esau, Jacob settles in Succoth. Now, we would be remiss not to mention that Jacob never communicated his plans to his brother. He may have a new name, but he is still operating in the flesh. Jacob deceives his brother. I can only imagine how that must have reinforced in Esau’s mind Jacob’s character. He could have described his face-to-face encounter with God. He could have told his brother he had changed, and God wanted him to move on to Succoth. But he doesn’t. My guess for why would be fear; however, fear will hinder your witness and destiny more than anything else.

Jacob then purchases a field (33:19). This is important because up to this point, while they owned many possessions, the only thing purchased by contract had been the cave for Abraham’s grave, and yet here is Jacob already seeing the fulfillment of God’s promise in the purchase of land. It wasn’t much, but it was his. Perhaps you could call it his seed money. Jacob invested in the promise of God.

We, too, must decide whether God’s promise is worth our investment. Jacob has struggled, and God has renamed, but when it came to finances, was he willing to put his money where his mouth was? What about us? Are we ready to take God at His word and step out in faith? This is the entirety of the Christian life: declarations of belief in God followed with actionable faith, even if that action is standing still. Will we purposefully choose to partner with Him?

After Jacob invested in the land of promise, what was the first thing he did? That’s right. He built an altar. Jacob reinforces his covenant with God but with a marked difference in its name. He names the altar “God, the God of Israel” (33:20). The Hebrew name is El-elohe Israel and is translated, “the mighty God of Israel.” This is the first time that Jacob doesn’t address God as the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac. No, this time it is personal, and notice it is not the “God of Jacob,” but of “Israel.” In doing this, Jacob both acknowledges who God is, mighty, and comes into agreement with God regarding his name and destiny.

Now, let me say that investing in God’s promise and coming into a verbal agreement with God, while the first step, does not mean that life will be rosy. Remember that shady side of Jacob? That fleshly part of you that hasn’t quite learned to submit to the Spirit of God? It’s going to continue to pop up, and it will challenge you and your calling. But we’ll address some of those in Jacob’s life next. For now, let’s allow the Spirit to move us into a place where we can invest in God’s purposes and see God might manifest in our lives.

Let’s Pray:

Father, You are mighty! You are my mighty God, and I worship you! You are the God who has enabled me to come face-to-face with my past and move forward. You are the God who is setting me in a vast open place, a place where I can invest in Your promises. Holy Spirit, thank You for guiding me into this next season of my life, where every day You walk with me and allow me to partner with the Father’s plans and purposes. You are a good God! While I know things will not always be wonderful, I do know that I am on board with all that You desire to accomplish in and through me, and I trust You to see me through. Have Your way, Lord! Have Your way in me, I pray. Amen.

4/8/2021 Walk with a Limp: Stepping into Your Prophetic Destiny, Pt. 13

Genesis 32:24-30

It’s dark, and Jacob is alone on the far side of the river. He has no possessions with him; his hands are as empty as when he initially traveled to Haran. He’s divided, contemplating how he deceptively obtained Esau’s blessing and how much Esau hates him. Will he be accepted? Will his brother try to kill him? Esau is on his way now with four hundred men. “But God said,” keeps popping into Jacob’s mind, and he is wrestling with his fears, as the man he is versus the man he would like to become. Then suddenly, he finds himself wrestling another man.

Isn’t suddenly a beautiful word? Things can change instantly, and for Jacob, that moment was when he took on himself. Many believe that this man Jacob wrestled with is none other than the Lord and that this a theophany. I, too, take that view. However, I believe the Lord was there to make certain that Jacob’s prophetic destiny won out over his flesh. God was, quite literally, wrestling with Jacob to see Jacob’s flesh defeated. Isn’t that what the Holy Spirit does for us today? When we are tempted to step outside of the plans and purposes of God, the Spirit joins with us so that we can be more than conquerors.

When the dawn comes, Jacob refuses to let the man go without receiving a blessing. While the man will not reveal His Name, He does change Jacob’s to Israel. Jacob has learned how to struggle and prevail with God and man, and that’s the secret. We can only win with the Lord, never without Him, particularly when it comes to the flesh. The wrestling match ends with Jacob stepping into his new identity as Israel, with a blessing, too. The only thing to show for it, though, is a limp.

Jacob declares, “I have seen God face to face, and I have been delivered” (Gen. 32:30). You see, there comes a time in all our lives when we must confront God. Either we will reject what He has planned for us, or we will embrace it whole-heartedly. Regardless, we are left walking with a limp. If we deny him, we are limping because outside of God, we can never reach the potential He has determined for us. If we accept His plans, we will remain limping to remind us that God alone can bring about His plans and purposes. We are but flesh and must remain humble. Jacob named the place of his encounter Peniel.

We all have Peniel moments. It is up to us to decide whether we’re wrestling against God or whether we’re wrestling with Him to achieve His purposes. Jacob chose to wrestle with Him. And that is always God’s desire – that we join with Him. We can walk as overcomers because His power is now at work in us, fighting for us, wrestling with us against the principalities and powers of darkness, not to mention the demons of our flesh.

Ephesians 3:20 states, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” When we surrender to God, His power works in us mightily to bring about His plans and purposes, resulting in His glorification, never our own.

We must all wrestle, and when we do, we may find that God has called us by something different all along. From the moment of Jacob’s conception, God didn’t see Jacob; He saw Israel. God saw everything that would need to occur for Jacob to be transformed into Israel. God’s vision for you is always the prophetic destiny He has ordained from the foundations of the earth, and He never gives up.

Can I encourage you today to give into God? Stop wrestling against Him and begin wrestling with Him. Don’t fear taking on your flesh. It is not, nor can it ever become, everything God desires. It’s time to step into your identity in Christ and move forward. Jacob left behind what was dividing him and walked forward whole. You can, too; albeit, with a limp😊

Let’s Pray:

Lord, it seems I have come to my Peniel moment. I am weary of fighting You and want to war with You. I surrender myself to You so that You can transform me into all I need to become to see Your prophetic plans birthed in my life. Thank you for pushing me to this point. I thank You that You have never seen me as myself. My self is not very promising. It fails me every time. Thank you for viewing me as Your glorious creation designed for a specific purpose in Your Kingdom. I submit to You and look forward to advancing in all that You have destined for me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

4/7/2021 Resolving Division: Stepping into Your Prophetic Destiny, Pt. 12

Jacob leaves Laban and now encounters angels on his return journey home. He names the place, Mahanaim, “God’s camp” (Gen. 32:2). Near this place, Jacob sends messengers ahead of him to greet his brother, Esau, not knowing whether he has been forgiven for his earlier deception. When his messengers return, it is with the news that Esau is coming to greet him with four hundred other men. Jacob is disturbed and divides his household into two camps.

Isn’t this what we generally do? Whenever we are upset, we divide ourselves most often between God and the flesh. When fight or flight kicks in, we divide ourselves to see which is the better option at the moment, even knowing that God has promised to be with us. Instead of walking in faith that God’s promises are true, Jacob divides himself, reasoning that plan B exists if plan A fails. Perhaps he thought, “Maybe I can still make something of myself if God doesn’t come through.” Sound familiar?

In this place of Jacob’s division against himself, he cries out to God (Gen. 32:9-12). In his distress, he calls on the God of Abraham and Isaac – the One who told him to return to his family. Jacob thanks the Lord for his faithfulness and then describes his current predicament. There are several things to be learned in this short prayer:

  1. Jacob lays the burden back on the shoulders of the One who ordered his actions. We must, too. The results of our obedience to God’s command always rest on God. Make no mistake, though. The result, as for countless believers throughout the centuries, maybe martyrdom. Do not presume that your obedience will benefit your flesh, rest in the fact that it will always help the Kingdom of God.
  2. Jacob reiterates his unworthiness of God’s faithfulness and kindness. There is nothing in our lives that makes us worthy. Indeed, Scripture is clear that we are not. Only the sacrifice of Christ can make us new creatures. Humility, again, is essential. Matthew recounts Jesus stating, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matt. 23:12). Remember God’s promise of land to Jacob? What does God say? “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). Humility is a prerequisite for stepping into your prophetic destiny. Jacob acknowledges that he first came over with his staff alone, but now he has returned divided. He’s in as much distress now as he was when he left. Sometimes returning can be just as hard on us as when we left. Memories are hard enough to confront, let alone the people we have hurt and who have hurt us. God alone can help us navigate the pathways we’ve created in our minds. Let’s call out to Him.

 

  1. Jacob makes his request known to God. While Jacob is doing so because of his fear, Paul admonishes us to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6). God desires to hear from you! What is it that you want? Jacob backed up his prayer, reminding God of his promise to make Jacob’s offspring like the sand of the sea. When did you last pray in alignment with God’s will, reminding Him of His promise to you?

 

That evening, following prayer, Jacob prepares a gift. It’s not something cheap – it’s worth something. Jacob’s blessing is prepared in fear but given in faith, hoping that it will enable Jacob to face the past and move forward. Like Jacob, repentance is accompanied by the tangible. It can’t be in word only but must be made manifest in action. But Jacob’s fears haven’t all been alleviated. He puts his family on one side of the river and returns to the other. There’s another that Jacob must face first. We’ll discuss that tomorrow.

Let’s Pray:

Lord, forgive me for the times that I have been double-minded. I know that I don’t deserve to receive anything from you when I second-guess Your direction in my life. I confess that I have walked in fear rather than faith. Lord, I purpose to leave the results of my obedience in Your hands. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I do know that You will be glorified as I rest in You. I am so thankful for the cross that causes me to stand boldly before the throne of grace. Lead me, Lord, in the way of repentance and let it be made manifest in my life. I trust You with every decision. You are always faithful and kind. Give me an undivided heart that I may fear You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

4/6/2021 Stepping into Your Prophetic Destiny, Pt. 11: Fleeing Laban

Laban will not go away – nor will he release Jacob. When Jacob seeks Laban’s blessing to leave, Laban agrees to pay Jacob whatever he wants because Laban understands his wealth is because of Jacob (Gen. 30). Many questions are raised about the speckled sheep and Jacob’s unique breeding program, so if you’re interested in the science behind it, I have listed a couple of interesting articles at the end of this article. However, for my sanity, I am not going to try to describe it myself.

Every time Laban changes Jacob’s wages, the strategy changes to increase Jacob’s wealth, and family relations become strained. You see, one cannot live off another’s anointing and call forever. To attempt it is to invite bitterness and resentment into the relationship. People must be released into their God-given callings, and in Genesis thirty-one, God speaks to Jacob that it is time to leave. God reminds Jacob that he had made God a solemn vow, and God was calling it in. It was time to flee, and Jacob’s wives are in on it.

However, rather than confronting Laban head-on, Jacob once again circumnavigates things by his deceptive practices and leaves without informing Laban. Rachel steals her father’s idols, which will provide her father with a basis of pursual. Never leave with that which doesn’t belong to you spiritually. It creates the foundation for a pursuit that can be problematic.

It’s a good thing that God is constantly intervening on Jacob’s behalf. He still has yet to step into any prophetic identity. When Laban pursues Jacob, God warns Laban not to say anything good or bad. When they meet up, Laban makes his unhappiness clear and brings up his household gods. In all twenty years, Laban could have made Jacob’s God his, but he was content to be the recipient of God’s blessing without the accountability to God, and now he will be left alone, without even his gods to comfort him. Jacob is correct, “He [God] issued His verdict last night.”

God will not suffer Laban to get away with drawing on the work God is doing in you. It may be years that you work under someone who claims everything is theirs, including all that God has invested in you. But God will redeem it all. When Jacob and Laban make a covenant, Laban names it Jegar-sahadutha, witness heap, but Jacob called it Galeed.

Here’s an important point. After twenty years, Laban and Jacob still weren’t speaking the same language. Communication is always vital. God’s promise to Jacob had included Laban for a time, but Laban’s house was not Jacob’s destiny. Sometimes the covenant to be made is one of peace that requires separation (Gen. 31:48-53). Jacob had to establish a permanent boundary that neither he nor Laban would cross. They would never see one another again; however, Jacob left in peace. He left the right way.

Whatever you are trying to escape, know that God has a plan for you. It may require time and service on your part, but God will deliver you from Laban. In fact, God may so move that, like Laban, a blessing is left behind for your legacy (Gen. 31:55). Maybe your Laban isn’t a person; perhaps it’s a job, or something else you have felt is inescapable. You are not stuck in a permanent holding pattern. There is an entire destiny awaiting you! Even though it seems Jacob is constantly fleeing the repercussions on his own choices and actions, God has not abandoned him. Jacob still holds the promise, and so do you!

It’s said Jacob was fifty-seven when he originally left to find a wife and approximately ninety-seven when he leaves Laban, at which point he hasn’t yet been given his new name. No, you’re never too old to step forth into all that God has for you. His plans and thoughts toward you have never changed. Never give up! Keep moving forward! There is so much more that God wants to do in and through you. Listen. Obey. Laban is leaving, and you are moving on without him.

Let’s Pray:

Father, you know I have felt stuck where I am at for a long time. Things seemed so clear when You initially gave me Your promise. Now it looks like a distant dream. Teach me to wait quietly for Your timing. Help me develop a hearing ear to know Your voice and extract myself from this situation at the proper time. Thank You that Your plans toward me have never changed. You have always had my best interest at heart, and I am being changed as You bless me. Thank You for not abandoning me to Laban. I choose to trust You! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

4/5/2021 Choosing to Praise: Stepping into Your Prophetic Destiny, Pt. 10

Let’s stop for a moment and consider these two wives of Jacob. The first, Leah, had been given in deception to trick Jacob into staying longer so that Laban could benefit from God’s blessing on his life. Rachel, the one whom Jacob had initially worked for, was beautiful and loved. Today, a portion of our wedding vows state that we will “love, honor, and cherish,” but Leah was not the recipient of any of those. Instead, she had delicate eyes, sometimes translated as tender or weak, which was considered a defect in her culture. Some Hebrew scholars suggest that her eyes were always red and puffy from her constant crying.

I cannot imagine going into a marriage knowing I was unloved and that my husband preferred another woman, let alone that woman being my sister. It is easy to see how competition for Jacob’s affections would have easily broken out when a woman’s primary occupation was bearing children and running the household. And God was looking down on all of this; was acquainted with every intimate detail.

In this spirit of competition, Leah bears Jacob his first three sons: Reuben, Simeon, and Levi. Sons were the father’s strength, and so she had every reason to think she would be more favored at the birth of each. And for each of them, Leah names them according to the flesh in her desire to win Jacob’s love and attention. However, it wasn’t to be. Yet, there is something to consider here.

She has entered the tent of the seed of promise, and God’s blessing is upon her. Somewhere in the time she has been there, she has accepted the God of Abraham and Isaac as her own, and her heart changes. When Leah bears Jacob yet another sone, instead of naming him according to the flesh, she calls him Judah saying, “This time I will praise the LORD” (Gen. 29:35). Nursing her broken heart, she takes it to God and declares that she is going to praise. This child won’t live under the shadow of knowing his mother is unloved. No, this child is dedicated to the praise of God amid her troubles.

This is crucial to recognize because it is from Judah that Jesus, Messiah, will come. It is from praise offered in brokenness that salvation will appear to the nation of Israel. How fitting is that? Not only that, but it is also from Leah through Levi that the lawgiver, Moses, will come. God isn’t looking for someone who meets the criteria of man; He is looking for those of a broken and contrite heart. As John Parsons points out, that of the four matriarchs of Israel (remember, both Rachel and Leah give Jacob their slaves as wives), Leah is the most fruitful and that, “ironically, it was the less teary-eyed Rachel, who later died in childbirth, that was prophesied to weep for her children” (Jer. 31:15).[1]

And, it is important to note, there is no indication that Leah was complicit in the stealing of household idols when Jacob flees Laban. That was Rachel. Often, when placed in positions where we are underappreciated and unloved, that we find ourselves returning to the source of ultimate comfort and guidance. Leah was in an unavoidable situation. She had been the victim of Laban’s greed and Jacob’s indifference. However, she chose to praise. And that is my point. No matter what state we find ourselves in our journey into God’s purposes, we must be humble people of praise.

Though her life was hard, little did she know that God was looking down on her and that He would make her the mother of both the royal and priestly line of Israel. Though little information is provided to us about her, she is our example of how we are to respond in difficult times. She could have quickly become bitter, yet she chose to rejoice in God. Bitterness will always stop the anointing from flowing. It is praise that heals and restores purpose.

Let’s Pray:

Lord, there have been moments when I have felt underappreciated, and my efforts have gone unrecognized. However, I choose to do everything You’ve called me to, not in a spirit of competition in the flesh, but Your Spirit, praising you amid what is a difficult situation. I choose to trust You to take whatever I birth during this time and create a legacy that will bless all people. Let my attitude be one of uprightness before, and whenever I am tempted to allow bitterness to take hold, let me rest in the fact that You see and hear me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 

[1] John J. Parsons, “Vayetzei – Leah’s Weak Eyes,” Vayetzei – Leah’s Weak Eyes (John J. Parsons), accessed April 5, 2021, https://hebrew4christians.com/Scripture/Parashah/Summaries/Vayetzei/Leah_s_Eyes/leah_s_eyes.html.

4/2/2021 A Reflection on Good Friday

Good things cost. For instance, stimulus checks are good for my pocketbook, but cost the government. Marriage is good but requires the surrender of complete independence. Fasting is good yet momentarily deprives me of what I want. There is a price for everything, and Good Friday was spectacular for me, not so for Jesus. It cost Him His life.

It was excruciating at best, and yet He did it for me. My sin and self-will were not, in my estimation, worth it, but Jesus “for the joy set before Him endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2). Our restored relationship with God was the joy He was looking forward to as He hung on the cross. Yet many today think that He was just a man. A soldier may throw himself across a grenade to save a buddy or civilian, a firefighter may run into a burning building to rescue others, but to die a prolonged and vicious death for people that may altogether reject you? I think not.

Yes, Jesus is truly man, AND He is truly God. Both are compatible with His character and nature. Peter and Paul both witness to His deity, as do the Gospels.

2nd Peter 1:1 states, “Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ…”

Titus 2:13 “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…”

Matt. 1:23, “Behold the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, ‘God with us.'”

Matt. 16:16, “Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

And Jesus Himself took no issue with receiving to Himself the worship and adoration of God. Christ uses the statement, “I AM,” throughout the Book of John. Why did they seek to kill Him? It wasn’t because He had a following; it was because of His claims. Matthew 27:43 makes clear that they understood who Jesus claimed to be when they mocked, “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.'”

My sin, your sin, the sin of the world cost God. And that is the beautiful craziness of our faith. Bruce L. Shelley states, “Christianity is the only major religion to have as its central event the humiliation of its God.”[1] And history is clear; everything about death on a cross was humiliating. What an incredible God we serve that our Creator would pay the penalty for His creation! Honestly, had it been me, I would have just started over. After all, what kind of God allows what He made with His hands to deny, resent, curse, and reject Him? Only our long-suffering, ever-living God! There truly is no God like Him!

You may call Him “Light.” John did, too. He declared Jesus to be the life and that His life was “the light of man. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:4-5). Just know that “Light” has a name, and that name is Yeshua, Jesus, Lord of all Creation. And though He gave up His life, He also took it back up in victory! He took the penalty so that you and I could walk in a relationship with Him, not only now but forever. And every year on the anniversary of His death, I call it “Good Friday” because of how it benefited me. I get to rejoice because I understand that the travesty of His death is just the prelude to His glorious, physical resurrection that conquers all that death, hell, and the grave would rob me of and replaces it with life and an eternity in the presence of God.

If this is not what Good Friday is for you because you have yet to decide to surrender your will to His, why not do so today? In a world like ours, honestly, what are you waiting for? We all need the Savior. Call on Jesus. Ask Him to transform your life and fill you with His Holy Spirit. I am at peace this Good Friday. Because of this one torturous day in the life of Christ, every day of my life is a one of beautiful resurrection!

 

[1] Bruce L. Shelley. Church History in Plain Language, 4th Edition, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN, 2013, pg. 1.

Part 9, Stepping into Your Prophetic Destiny

In Genesis 28:13-14, God has made Jacob a promise comprised of four unique parts:

  1. Possession of Land
  2. Possession of Seed
  3. Possession of Posterity
  4. Relationship with God

Yet here we find Jacob in exile from the land and without a wife, no posterity. It’s almost as funny as God telling Abraham that he and Sarah will have a child in their old age. We serve a God who loves to make possible the impossibilities of man! And so, with this promise in mind, Jacob continues his journey to Laban.

From the time God gives Jacob the promise, he is not slowly meandering through the desert; he is purposefully watching where he is going. For what are you looking? Are you facing each day with resolve, searching out what the Lord has for you, or do your days flow one into another without advancing the Kingdom of God?

We find in Genesis chapter 29 that Jacob looks and sees a well. Jacob comes upon a well that’s been covered up. Jacob sees the need and uncovers it. Like Jacob, there are often seasons in our life where the water of the Word needs to be released. For some reason, it has been stopped up, and yet without the Word, the promise cannot be saturated to bring forth fruit. But there is something else that has prompted this uncovering. Rachel.

It is Rachel’s presence that prompts Jacob to open up the well. When Jacob sees Rachel, he sees the fulfillment of part three of the promise – posterity. He sees a partner in the promise of God. When we catch a glimpse of what God has in store, it motivates us to do the seemingly impossible. Jacob moved a stone in her presence that generally took several grown men to do so that he could be a source of blessing to Rachel, Laban’s daughter.

It’s interesting to note that Isaac sent Jacob to Laban, whereas Abraham was vehement that Isaac was not to return to his family. Given that this sojourn will last approximately twenty years, Abraham was the wise one. It is not advisable to send the seed back to the place you have been called out from, but here we are in Haran, and now we have a Laban with which to deal.

When Jacob tells Laban all that has happened, Laban replies, “Yes, you are my own flesh and blood” (Gen. 29:14). They’re not just biologically related; Laban recognizes in Jacob the very root of deception that dwells within himself. We see this immediately manifested in the fact that Laban, who although promises one thing, substitutes another – Leah. Just as Jacob disguised himself to gain Esau’s blessing, so Laban has disguised Leah for his selfish gain. Be careful in your journey. Laban will always be drawn to that part of your flesh that will mirror his own and then use it to his advantage. There is no circumnavigating it when your sin confronts you in the form of another. Sooner or later, and for Jacob, much later, you will need to face it head-on.

There’s a lot of talk about spiritual mothers and fathers, and I have personally reaped the benefits of these God-given relationships. However, you must be vigilant; otherwise, in pursuit of your destiny, you may place yourself into the hands of those who would seek to capitalize on your anointing and hold your destiny captive for the benefit of their own—those who, like Laban, will keep you enslaved for their own purposes. Be careful with whom you choose to align yourself. God won’t leave you, regardless. However, walk forward knowing that Laban is not your destiny. Look for a Mordecai who will train you, pray for you, and release you into the destiny you can fulfill.

No matter what, every promise of God is worth every effort and hardship. During this time of arduous work in a foreign land with two competitive wives, God will prove Himself and bless Jacob.

Let’s Pray:

Father, thank You for Your precious promise. Thank You that You have a place for me, that You’ve given me something to sow for the Kingdom, and that my posterity will be blessed. Thank You most of all for the relationship I am developing with You. You are my heart’s desire. When I walk through dry places, help me release the water of Your Word over my situation. Bring me into relationships with people who want Your best for my life. Thank You for the times You’ve given me glimpses into where You are taking me. Lord, everything You have for me is worth the effort. May I always be a blessing to those I come in contact with so that You may be glorified. Amen.

Part 8, Stepping into Your Prophetic Destiny: Jesus is Worthy

Jacob has just had an extraordinary encounter with the Living God. WOW! Can you imagine God standing beside you and making such an incredible promise! Jacob deduces that “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” Often God is in the most unsuspecting of places, but finding God at an altar of praise and sacrifice is a good place to look. It brought about a healthy fear of God rather quickly. We constantly pray for God’s presence to show up, but are we truly prepared for it? Jacob wasn’t, but that didn’t stop the Lord from revealing Himself (Gen. 28:16-22).

The same altar stone built up by Abraham has now become a memorial stone for Jacob. He has declared it to be the house of God and so anoints it as a sacred place, changing its name from Luz to Bethel. Where God shows up in your life, begin building memorials, name it. Never mind what others have called it, you name it. When doctors told Walter and me that I couldn’t carry children to term, and God showed up, we know that God is the God of the Womb, who causes us to carry and give birth to all that He impregnates us with, not only physically, but spiritually. Now we have four incredible teenage boys. Was it hard? Yes. Was it painful? Yes. Was it worth it all? ABSOLUTELY. Jesus is worth it all, all the time! Is this true spiritually speaking, as well? Yes, yes, yes! Is it still worth it? Again, absolutely!

So, the God of the Universe has just shown up and reaffirms His covenant with Jacob, and while Jacob recognizes Him, Jacob doesn’t acknowledge Him as His God. He tries to negotiate with God. He reverts to his fleshly self. He bargained the birthright with Esau, negotiated the deception of his father, Isaac, and now at the altar, he is doing it again. He wants to negotiate God’s status in exchange for the temporal (Gen. 28:20-22).

  • If God is with me and watches over me
  • If God provides me with food and clothing
  • If God returns me safely home
  • THEN this will be your house, and I will give You 10% of all that You give me

I find it spectacularly funny that all of these things were implied in what God promised Him. Jacob is saying, “If You are true to Your Word, this is what I will do for You.” We’ve all done it. “If You God…, then I will…” It would be hypocritical to say otherwise. But God, even when we insult Him by questioning His Word, remains true to it. That being said, negotiation is generally a mark of spiritual immaturity. The exception in Scripture is intercession when we stand in the gap for others (Gen. 18:26-33). God desires that we trust Him, regardless.

Jacob’s premise is that if God gives to me, then I will give to Him, and he promises to give God what grandfather Abraham gave to Melchizedek, ten percent (Gen. 14:19-20). I don’t want to get into a debate on the tithe, but it’s clear that our patriarchal fathers believed that the tithe belonged to God way before the law was ever enacted and that giving it was in gratitude for what God had already done. They gave because God first gave. We love because God first loved us. In regards to His purposes in your life, there is no step into your prophetic destiny that God has not first trod. He will never ask anything of you that His character, nature, and actions haven’t already provided. Negotiation with the Lord is unnecessary. He’s already thought it all out.

When we begin the journey into our prophetic destiny, my spirit becomes His home because He is worthy. I give generously to Him and into the purposes and calls of others because He is worthy. I don’t need to bargain with God to get Him to fulfill His promises. He will not be untrue to Himself. However, I do need to walk in a state of thankfulness.

Romans 1: 21 states, “For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude.” The descent into sin is a slippery slope that begins when we fail to glorify God and refuse to express thanks. Sin, my friend, is not one of the stopping points on your journey. Remember yesterday, integrity is vital, and we are first and foremost called to holiness. When I do so, crucifying my flesh and living in Christ, His worthiness enables me to step into everything He has purposed for me. His worthiness silences the voice of the enemy that says I am unworthy. I become a conduit for the presence of the Holy God to work out His purposes in the earth. This lifestyle keeps me in peace and humble, because then, like Paul, I can declare, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). I have faith given to me, and that faith grows as I walk in Christ’s faith. Remember, Christ has more faith for you than you have for yourself. So when the enemy whispers it can’t be done, just let him know, “With God, all things are possible,” and move forward confidently in Christ (Matt. 19:26).

Let’s Pray:

Father, thank You! Thank You for the beauty of the earth You created for me to enjoy and the fellowship of Your company. I am in awe of You! Lord, I don’t want to be someone constantly trying to cut the next deal with You. I know I don’t have to because You made the ultimate deal when You died so that I could be forgiven and live. Lord, I have this promise from You. I know You gave it to me, and I trust You that I am held safely in Your hands no matter where this journey leads. You are worthy of any sacrifice. I will give of my resources, time, and energy to see Your purposes accomplished in me. I will be thankful in all things, refusing to become bitter when there’s an unexpected curve, or I am hurt because I trust You. Let me be an instrument of Your love and an example of Your grace to all with whom I come in contact. Help me keep my flesh on the cross and my spirit alive to Your plans and purposes. In times of frustration, help me remember that nothing is impossible with You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.