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Wrestling for Your God Given Name

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Wrestling for Your God Given Name

Nate Allen

&

M.J. Elliott

DEDICATION

 

 

To Pastors Everywhere in need of Encouragement

 

 

IN MEMORY

 

Pastor Rick Hope was loved by many of those who wrote in to our website and offered himself to aid our cause in any way he could in the short time he was part of our ministry team. He will be missed but never forgotten. May all who find their way here to his memorial page be encouraged by his message…

 

To honor him we offer one of his articles as the Epilogue to this little book

Table of Contents

Forward 3

Part One 5

Your Decisions Do Matter 6

Responsibility in Making Mistakes 12

A Vision of God’s Promise 18

Is This the Perfect Match? 24

Deception is All Around You 30

The Desire & Your True Need 36

Leaving the Past Behind 42

Changing Your Perspective 48

The Battle for the Heart 54

Becoming “The New Man” 61

The Life Raft 67

Embracing God’s Promise 73

Part Two 80

Gen 28:18-22 81

Gen 31:44-55 82

Gen 33:18-20 83

Gen 35:1-7 84

Gen 35:14-15 85

About The Author’s 86

Nate Allen 87

Matthew J. Elliott 88

Epilogue 90

In Memory of Pastor Rick Hope 90

Forward

 

 

 

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be given a promise, only to have to wait for what seems like an eternity to have that promise come to fruition? This is what it was like for Jacob and the promise that God gave him. God gave Jacob the same promise that he gave his ancestors Abraham and Isaac.

 

We all can relate to Jacob’s story. From beginning to end there are certain aspects of his story that we, ourselves, have experienced in our own ways. We have all doubted ourselves and God at some point in our lives. The struggles we have all faced in life and ministry can all compare to the struggles that Jacob endured in his lifetime. Who we are and who we want to be is nothing compared to what and whom God desires us to be, and we are all wrestling, waiting for the morning to come, waiting for the day when our lowly reputations are elevated to that long-sought-after place: the place of our God given name.

 

As you read through the pages of this book, we will walk you through twelve different milestones in Jacob’s life and reveal the lessons we have learned through writing his life story down on paper. While these lessons can apply to everyday life, our intent is to show how those specific lessons can apply to those in ministry as well as those who are simply in need of spiritual encouragement.

 

The question remains though, How does a man whose name literally means “Trickster” become Israel, the father of nations, the culmination of God’s promise to Abraham? You as the reader may be thinking “I know this story, and there aren’t many connections to us today.” Truthfully, they aren’t that easy to find, but they are indeed present in Jacob’s story.

 

By carefully searching through the scriptures that teach Jacob’s story, this labor of love has produced many of these treasures, and we firmly believe God’s hand was present as we endeavored to bring these revelations to life. While we as individual authors have very distinct writing styles, God truly wove them together and produced this work.  It is our hope that you will see that and that you will embrace the Journey we are already on, the journey to finding Your God Given Name.

 

Part One

 

 

Twelve Milestones

 

 

Your Decisions Do Matter

Esau Sells His Birthright for[
**]Lentils and Stew

 

Gen 25: 29-34

 

 

When you set the stage for one of the strangest forms of bartering found in the Bible, you have to do a double take. Who would sell their birthright for lentil stew? Who would give up something priceless for something temporary? It’s easy to approach the story of Jacob buying Esau’s birthright as almost laughable. But, when you look at the story, it becomes clear how much we can glean from this cautionary telling. God didn’t put it in the Bible as comic relief; He had something profound to say.

 

Let’s set the stage to find the meaning. Esau has been working tirelessly and enters his home exhausted to the point that common sense and good judgment have decided to take the day off. It only takes one good whiff of Jacob’s stew to entice Esau to make the biggest mistake of his life. When Jacob asks for Esau’s birthright as payment, it seems to be something said in passing, something similar to a man saying he’d sell his soul if only he could have this or that. What’s clear is that Esau doesn’t believe he is selling anything of worth. “What’s in a name if I’m not alive to use it?” his hunger spoke in hyperbole. Of course, Esau wasn’t a moment from death due to starvation.

It just felt like it at that moment…

 

Now, we can point fingers at Jacob as living up to what his name meant, which was Trickster. We can say that he should never have put his brother in such a compromising position. Ultimately though, it didn’t matter that Jacob was the one tricking Esau because it was still Esau’s responsibility to know that you don’t sell something priceless for something temporary.

 

For those currently serving in ministry, you are in a compromising position daily, simply because the days get long and the walk begins to wear on you. After time has exhausted you and you are convinced that you aren’t building anything of worth, it’s easy to be enticed by temporary things despite the fact that what you are building is priceless.

 

Jacob tempted Esau with food, knowing that he would be ravenous when returning from the fields and would give him anything that he asked for. Be careful that there isn’t someone trying to entice your weary soul with something fleeting, such as compromising God’s Word in your ministry to gain a bigger following.

 

There are two perspectives to be found in this passage. Esau made a foolish decision; Jacob lived up to his terribly accurate name. It’s important to understand that both can be commonly found in ministry.

 

Esau:

Those serving in a ministry that don’t know the worth of what they’re building are not people to associate with because you may walk in one day to find that a tantalizing opportunity has swayed them away from God’s calling.

 

Jacob:

There are more Jacobs in ministry than there are Esau’s. These are people who put their needs first, willing to manipulate the desperate and take advantage of them whenever they can.

 

Now, on the surface, this may not seem all that encouraging, but I’m a firm believer that true encouragement can only come once your ministry has the right people working to propel it forward. Just as a garden can only thrive when the weeds have been pulled out by the root, your ministry can only thrive when people of the same mind are working toward a common goal.

 

As a pastor, you may be asking yourself, “What are they trying to do here? How does this fit with what I’m going through in my ministry?” Dear Pastor, there are always going to be moments in your life when you are going to have to choose whom you serve and how you go about doing it; making this choice will happen daily. Someday there may be something placed within your grasp that seems worthwhile but ends up being a foolish mistake, as Esau experienced. Or, you may be faced with doing something that will get you where you want to go but not in a godly way, as Jacob did. It is your responsibility to choose a path that doesn’t lead to either.

 

Let’s take a deeper look into Esau’s choice. He had been promised something great, just as we are promised something similar in our individual callings. When it came down to making a decision, he embraced the choice that led to instant gratification. Esau took the easy road to fulfillment. He let the temptation of a material thing, such as lentil stew, guide the choice set before him. We too can take that road and often do. This can lead us away from the path that God has for us, just as it did for Esau.

 

You may be facing a situation like this today, and that may be why things aren’t going the way you thought they would in your ministry. Let us encourage you with this. The choice you make determines the fulfillment you will find. If you take the easy path, your fulfillment will only be temporary. However, if you choose the God ordained path, the satisfaction you seek will last for eternity. The life of a pastor was never meant to be an easy one. Our goal should be to “…fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18 NIV). God’s plan for us was not meant to be temporary; it was intended to be eternal.

 

What about Jacob? Well, his choice was one of selfish ambition. His sole purpose in claiming Esau’s birthright was to get what he felt he deserved. He knew that he could easily manipulate Esau into giving him what he desired if something was enticing enough to replace it, regardless of how temporary it truly was.  Like with Esau, this was a foolish path to take, but Jacob’s desire for more led him down a path that would haunt him for many years to come.

 

Our desires often get the best of us when we don’t give them to God, just as Jacob’s desire got the best of him. This is not the way it was meant to be. You may be dealing with this in your own heart, or you may work with someone else that is working through this. Be encouraged because God’s desire for us is stronger than you can ever imagine. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). God can build desires in all our hearts that glorify Him through the calling He’s given us.

 

As you continue your pastoral journey, seek ways to avoid the foolish path of instant gratification and selfish desires. This world and its material things are only temporary. Your birthright is something special and what God has called you to. When you are faced with the choices you make daily, take the time to stop and ask God to show you the direction you are meant to embrace.  It may take time for Him to show you the answer you seek, but in the end, the result will lead to something that is more than momentary. He will lead you straight into His eternal glory where your God-given name will begin to take shape.

 

Responsibility in Making Mistakes

Jacob Tricks Isaac into Giving Him Esau’s Blessing

 

Gen 27: 1-40

 

 

As far as trickery goes, this is the lowest of the low. Jacob not only tricks his nearly blind father into giving him Esau’s blessing, but he is also coerced into it by his mother, Rebekah. She sees his potential over Esau’s and decides to create an elaborate ruse to steal her firstborn son’s rightful blessing.

 

Although we are focusing primarily on Jacob, there is something to be learned from how Esau was treated. Though he came out of the womb first, he has always been second in his mother’s eyes. Esau hunted in the country while Jacob stayed in; Esau was a hairy man while Jacob was as smooth as baby’s skin. Every detail of Esau’s life shows his displacement from his family, and every decision he made reflects this.

 

The same can be said of Jacob for differing reasons. His name means “Trickster,” and his reputation lives up to it. His mother, knowing this, only sees him as who he has been up to this point. She manipulates him just as much as he manipulated Esau into selling his birthright. In fact, initially, he approaches this idea with apprehension. It wasn’t Jacob who decided in his “trickster’s” mind to steal his brother’s blessing; it was his mother assigning value.

 

So, the complicated story unfolds: Esau is told by Isaac that he will give him his blessing if he goes out and catches him dinner, cooks it, and then brings it to him. Esau gladly sets out to fulfill his father’s wishes, unaware that his mother overhears what his father says and thinks within herself that Jacob is the worthy one to receive the blessing of the firstborn.

 

She approaches Jacob and proposes a way for him to steal Esau’s blessing; this includes dressing for the part by putting on his brother’s clothes as well as fastening goat fur to his hands and neck, in case his father were to touch him. His mother kills two baby goats, cooks a meal, and has Jacob take it in to his father.

 

The planning that goes into this is undeniable. Nobody can look at it and say anyone was operating under ignorance. It was planned deception. And though it’s easy for us to judge those that are guilty in this, I find it endlessly encouraging to see that God has already made room for Jacob’s mistake, so much so that He honors the blessing that was stolen from Esau.

 

 How many have been in ministry, faced with a trickster’s reputation? How many have been buried under the weight of low expectations, finding it difficult to break through the surface? Many times in ministry, your biggest critic is the congregation itself. Maybe you’ve been saved from a terrible lifestyle, pulled out of the darkest of the dark by our beautiful Savior. But, living in your newness isn’t easy when you’re constantly reminded of your past.

 

What Jacob did to Esau is a terrible betrayal, but what Rebekah did is far worse. Being such an important voice in both her sons’ lives, she was willing to typecast both. Esau’s decisions up to that point were not indicative of someone going places, so she decided to take it from him altogether. Knowing Jacob’s past, she has no problem dragging him back through the mud, because his name already means trickster.

 

The encouragement that can be found in this betrayal is not in the act itself, but in knowing that God is bigger than our mistakes. Although God hadn’t yet told Jacob the plans He had for him, in His eyes Jacob was already Israel. If you’ve been known as a trickster type in your past, don’t carry it with you any longer, because the longer you hold on to a former name, the harder it will be ever to embrace the one God has given you.

 

Serving in the ministry is never an easy calling. As pastors, we are always going to have those moments when we make a few mistakes. Serving in a profession such as this comes with a great responsibility, and you are never going to make it on your own.  There are always going to be those moments when your past will come back and remind you of who you were. We all come from different backgrounds and different experiences. Each of us can use our experiences, both good and bad, to guide us on our journey with God as we embrace our callings.

 

Jacob gave into doing what his mother had asked him to do even when he knew it wasn’t the best choice to make; this is a part of who Jacob was before he began to experience the presence of God in his life. Before his first encounter with God, Jacob lived a life pursuing selfish acts and taking advantage of those closest to him. It was all he knew and all he cared about.  It wasn’t until he began to embrace God’s presence in the world around him that he truly began to realize just how wrong that lifestyle was. It wasn’t until then that he started to learn what his true purpose in life was. Truthfully, I would imagine this weighed heavily upon his heart as he grew older and began to embrace his God-given name.

 

 Just as Jacob made mistakes in his life, we too have and will make mistakes; what will be important for us is that we take those mistakes and learn from them. God can use our mistakes for His glory. Take a moment to think about what God did through the mistakes that Jacob made throughout his life. Honestly, there was a great deal of them.  Then take it a step further and look into the life of Paul or Peter. They made mistakes as well, but God was able to use them. Making mistakes is a part of growing in your walk with God. If one does not make mistakes in life, how can they learn the difference between right and wrong?

 

Dear Pastor, you may be facing the consequences of one of those mistakes in this present moment. Know that you will get through this. God is with you, and you can learn from that mistake if you let God teach you through it. While it is important and God-honoring to accept these consequences, you will get through this and God can use it for his glory.

 

“Now, this is what the Lord says, the one who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel: ‘Don’t be afraid, for I will protect you. I call you by name; you are mine.’ When you pass through the waters, I am with you; when you pass through the streams, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not harm you” (Isaiah 43:1-2 NET).

 

Where there is pain, God will bring grace. While you may not know how to overcome the mistakes that you have made in life, God’s love for you can help you find the peace you long for. You do not have to let this experience keep you from following the calling God has placed upon your heart. The suffering you face today will only last for a season. Continually remind yourself that you can indeed learn from your mistakes. As you learn from them, you will find many blessings.

 

A Vision of God’s Promise

Jacob and the Ladder to Heaven

 

Gen 28: 10-22

 

 

Jacob flees from his homeland, on the run from a brother he has now tricked twice. His father tells him to find a wife in Padan Aram where Laban, Rebekah’s brother, lives. He obeys, fearing for his very life.

 

Now, let’s look closely at Jacob. He’s not only running away from Esau, he’s running away from an identity he wants to leave behind as well. The trickster identity is built into him, a name he isn’t proud to have, yet the only name he can identify with. Everyone who has ever known him has known him only for his trickster’s reputation. As he journeys toward Padan Aram, what do you think is going through his head? He now has the blessing his father spoke over him. Even though he stole it from Esau, he knows that when his father speaks it, his words cannot be revoked. His father has spoken Abraham’s blessings on him.

 

The first thing you have to wonder is, how could he receive these words? This was a blessing of great honor and position given to him when he didn’t deserve it. Was he being rewarded for being a trickster? How is this any different than being given a reward for being a thief? How could you step into your calling when you know that it wasn’t supposed to be yours?

 

Now, I’m not saying that what happened wasn’t God’s ultimate plan. At the moment I just want to pull back the veil on scripture and let us simply sit with this man whose name means trickster, because it’s easy to forget that the men and women from the Bible were real humans, just like us. What was Jacob thinking on his way to Padan Aram? I’m sure he felt two inches tall, trying to carry a calling ten times his size. I’m sure he felt unworthy, guilt ridden, and foolish, being tricked by his mother and falling into his trickster ways once again.

 

He’s been walking for a time, not yet to Haran, and nightfall has come. He pulls the nearest rock he can find to use as a pillow and lays down to sleep. And as God tends to always do when we are questioning our purpose, He sends confirmation: After closing his eyes, in a dream Jacob witnesses a ladder being placed in the field near him that reaches to the top of heaven. Angels ascend and descend on it, and he looks up to see God Himself placed above it saying, “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” (Genesis 28:13-15 NKJV)

 

When Jacob opens his eyes, his whole outlook has changed. God has given him hope of a future that is contrary to his present. Yes, he’s a trickster, but God is making it clear to him that his current reputation cannot derail his purpose. Let this be a word of great encouragement to you. God will always speak a word before it manifests in your life. He will give you a promise to hold on to through the thick and thin, through times when His promise couldn’t feel farther away. Many times He gives a word years or even decades before it comes to pass. He gives you something to focus your eyes on, walking through life with you moment by moment while letting His promise propel you forward. If you’ve been given the promise, it will come to pass. Keep your focus on what He has said.

 

Knowing God has a plan for you often comes with a season of waiting. He doesn’t always promise something and then just give it to you right away. There are usually some things we must go through to get to where we need to be. The promise given serves as a reminder that God is not finished with you yet. Sometimes even the worst of situations can open doors to unimaginably new and wonderful things in life. This is part of how God works in our lives.

 

Dear Pastor, God has a plan and calling for each of us. I’m sure you’ve heard this many, many times before and even shared it with those you minister to.  This message is meant for you as well. You may be in a season of life, just as Jacob was as he journeyed towards Padan Aram, in which you are asking some of the same questions that he did. This is nothing to be afraid of. God’s will for you is often revealed when you need to hear it the most, not when you want it the most. Jacob was at a point in life in which he was beginning to realize that something needed to change. In many ways he had hit rock bottom and had no idea where and what he should be doing.

 

What he had just done, in spite of the fact that he was coerced into doing it, was wrong, and he knew it. You may be feeling the same way about something you have just experienced. You may even be running from the result of that experience.  It’s time for you to stop. Admit to yourself that you have embraced your former life. God will forgive you just as He forgave Jacob. Stop wrestling with who you were and start embracing who you were meant to become. Jacob had to do this and so do we. It’s not going to happen overnight and our great God understands that.  The reason He gives us the manifestation of His promises is to remind us that He still has a plan for us when we are faced with the ‘rock bottom seasons’ in life.

 

God’s promises give us something we can hold on to as we strive to find our God given names, as we strive to find out why He created us in the first place. “By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News” (Eph. 3:7 NLT).

 

With each day we are given; our reason for being is meant to be used by God to bring Him glory. Of course, as a pastor, you know this already. So, you may be asking, “Why are you reminding me of this?” Well, it is because we all need to be reminded of that purpose sometimes.  It is a reminder that something great is coming and that, in time and as we are faithful, we will begin to see the fruits of that promise. Jacob was reminded that even though he feared the outcome of the choices he had made, God was with him. It may have taken a pretty impressive dream for Jacob to realize this, but it was something that he would take with him throughout his journey. It would give him a little glimmer of hope.

 

Sometimes God will promise you something beyond what you will be able to comprehend, and you will have to learn to hold on to that promise as you walk through each season. Continue your journey, hold on to that promise, and endure the test of time. God’s promise will guide your path.

 

Is This the Perfect Match?

Seeking Rachel’s Hand in Marriage

 

Gen 29: 1-18

 

 

When God speaks, hope comes immediately. Now that Jacob has seen the ladder up to heaven and God Himself speak words of an immeasurable blessing over him, Jacob no longer looks at the world as a trickster outrunning his tarnished reputation. No. God has spoken, and Jacob has listened. Once the night ends and day breaks, his trip continues. Though the Bible doesn’t say it, I have to imagine there was now a definite skip in his step. Why do I think that? There is nothing that refreshes a man more than to be given clarity of purpose by the very One that gives purpose.

 

 Jacob is no longer purposeless, no longer a counterfeit firstborn that stole Esau’s blessing. Instead, he has been given the word by God Himself: that he will see the prophecy that started two generations before with his grandfather, Abraham, come to fruition before his very eyes. Before he ever arrives in Padan Aram to Laban’s house, Jacob is given reassurance of purpose; which only solidifies the fact that man can speak, but God has the final word. A man called him trickster; God called him blessed.

 

Now, he could have chosen to continue listening to man’s opinion of him from his past and entered Padan Aram as a man running away and defeated. But, instead, he wisely held on to God’s words with a vice grip and never let go. He entered Padan Aram, not as a man running away, but as a man looking for the woman that God had set aside for him and would ultimately use to give him as many descendants as the dust of the earth.

 

When Jacob comes to the well outside of Padan Aram and lays his eyes on Rachel, he sees his future. He sees a woman that captivates his entire being. He sees God working, His promise already coming to pass.

 

Now, I just want to stop for a moment to point something out. Isn’t it interesting how we can see God moving when we are actively looking for Him? Jacob entered this land as a confident man, actively looking for the best. Had God not given Him the word He had, would Jacob have entered Padan Aram looking for anybody? Even though his father told him to travel there to find his wife, in reality, he only left his homeland to avoid his brother’s wrath. Had God never spoken to Jacob to give him a real picture of who he was in God’s eyes, Jacob would have seen Rachel at the well and reasoned within himself that she was too good for a pathetic trickster like him.

 

Perception is everything. Jacob was able to approach Rachel because God’s words had changed his opinion of himself. Once God has given you a word or two, let it burn on the inside of you, changing your identity to match what He has called you. On the outside, Jacob was the same trickster he had always been; but, on the inside, a seed of hope and purpose had been planted. Outside voices could no longer convince him that he was worthless because God had already called him ‘blessed.’

 

When Jacob met Rachel, he saw a living manifestation of God’s promise. He didn’t know how she was going to bring him to the place God had promised, but he did know that she was part of the journey. As soon as Jacob met Rachel and the two of them exchanged a few words to test the water, they both knew they wanted to be husband and wife. So, having learned that Laban is Rachel’s father, he sets out to ask his permission for her hand in marriage.

 

  This message of encouragement is simple:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Learn to discern what God is giving you, just as Jacob was able to.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Be sure you have or will find a way to obtain it because God rarely (if ever) gives you anything that you aren’t willing to work to obtain and sustain.

 

It’s a sound fact that there are always going to be unexpected blessings that come our way. They are part of why the journey to finding our God given name is a complete life altering experience. It is also a sound fact that we will get unexpected hardships, but more about that in the next chapter. Jacob has just experienced a milestone in that journey, and through this unexpected blessing, he has found hope and the promise of a future.

 

Here we begin to see that life altering experience take shape. Jacob, while he still has a long way to go, started to see that there is something more to his life than his present circumstance. Yes, he is on the run, but there is something different about the way he sees the world around him. Dear Pastor, are you running from something? Take a moment to stop and ask yourself this question today. You may have your sights set on going one direction when in reality God has something different in mind.

 

Jacob didn’t run expecting to find God; he ran hoping to get away from all the trouble he’d caused back home. Regardless of why he was running, God still met him in the midst of the darkness he’d built around himself. As Jacob approaches the well and begins to assist with watering the sheep, he sees something completely unexpected: the Lovely Rachel. Something sparks, and he can’t help but be reminded of God’s promise. He pursues a kiss and embraces a beloved Uncle. Thus a new chapter of Jacob’s journey begins.

 

Dear Pastor, you too will have moments like this.  They will come in all different shapes and sizes, but they will, indeed, come. There may even be an unexpected blessing in your journey today. Your unexpected blessing could very well be similar to that of Jacob’s, or it could be something completely different. Perhaps it’s a new ministry opportunity that has begun to burn within your heart. Or, maybe it’s a very positive return after one of your outreaches has been a huge success. Whatever that blessing may be, it’s important to realize where that blessing comes from.

 

I imagine that Jacob knew in his heart of hearts that these unexpected blessings had come from the Lord. He reacted to the appearance of this unexpected blessing as anyone would, and even though he would have to take a different route in pursuit of this blessing, Jacob knew one day it would be his to embrace. It is the same way with the unexpected blessings that appear before us today.

 

The manifestations of the promises we receive from God always come at the right moment. For Jacob, the appearance of Rachel gave him reassurance in the promise he’d just been given. The appearance of your unexpected blessing can do the same. Remember, don’t forget to take a moment or two to stop and enjoy the promises God has given to you. They are unique in themselves, and while it may take time before you can fully embrace them, they may never come around again.

Deception is All Around You

Jacob’s Marriage to Leah

 

Gen 29: 21-27

 

 

There is a thread that continues throughout Jacob’s life, a lurking consequence that never seems to fully leave him: his trickster ways come back around to bite him over and over again. Willing to do whatever he has to for Rachel to be his wife, Jacob makes a deal with Laban that he will work for him for seven years to earn his blessing and Rachel’s hand. Jacob does it gladly, working in the fields daily, propelled by the promise. He knows that every day he works is just one day closer to having her as his wife.

 

Now, I can’t quite imagine staying joyful daily for seven years while doing tireless and demeaning grunt work. In fact, the Bible says it seemed to be only days to him because of his love for her. Now, even though the Bible claims that Rachel was a beauty that had to be seen (not verbatim), I find it hard to believe this was the only factor that kept Jacob going. Above everything else, I believe Rachel represented the next step in God’s plan, which put an immeasurable value on her; value that he was gladly willing to work seven years to obtain.

 

Seven years was the contract. Once Jacob reached that point, Laban set out to pull a trick straight out of Rebekah’s playbook. After Laban has gathered friends for a wedding feast, Jacob is to consummate the union with the woman he loves and has worked seven years to have.

 

His ‘bride’ comes into lie with him. and when morning comes and the light reveals that it’s not Rachel, but her older sister Leah, Jacob is understandably grieved. After all, he worked seven years for Rachel, yet it’s not her but someone he never had any real interest in. Talk about a shot to the gut. Talk about getting to experience just a shade of the pain he has inflicted on his brother Esau.

 

The best tricksters are the ones that have a logical reason for their deception. When Jacob confronted Laban about this deceptive act, Laban claims that the younger daughter cannot be married before the eldest. This is an understandable reason, but it still holds no weight because the agreement was seven years of work for Rachel’s hand in marriage, not Leah’s. Laban knew Rachel was his younger daughter when he first made the covenant. The reality is much simpler: he saw that Jacob was willing to do anything for Rachel’s hand, and knew he could get another seven years of free work out of him. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t a man of his word, it rarely does.

 

Jacob willingly works another seven years to have Rachel as his wife, never giving Leah the love she so desperately craves. You can’t help but feel for Leah. In many ways, she is Esau to the much preferred Jacob. Though Leah is the firstborn, Rachel is said to be the beautiful one. So beautiful in fact that Jacob is willing to work fourteen years for her hand while never treating Leah as anyone of value, even though she is his wife for seven of the fourteen years spent seeking Rachel.

 

This is a perfect example of how what you set out to obtain rarely comes to you in the way you expect it to. Jacob was told seven years and he would have Rachel as his wife. It ended up taking him fourteen years and left him with two wives.

 

If you are currently on a detour, just keep moving forward. What you set out to obtain will be yours. But, how and when it will happen is something only God knows. Keep working despite the detour!

 

Our plan is not always God’s, Jacob had to learn that lesson, and he did through this experience with Laban.  There are going to be times when, as a Pastor, you will have to face the reality of God’s timing. While Jacob had found his promise of restoration in Rachel, whom he loved, embracing that promise only came with time.  Dear Pastor, you may be eager to embrace the promise of restoration that God has given you, and that is okay. However, there is a time for everything, and right now may not be that time for you.

 

Sometimes, as pastors, we have to endure many struggles in ministry that are beyond our control. They hit us when we least expect it, and they hit us hard.  It’s not an easy thing to overcome. Here is the truth: life is full of ups and downs. What’s important is the way we respond when we encounter those ups and downs. Jacob responded to the betrayal of Laban as one would expect, but then resolved to trust in the promise that had been given to him.

 

You too need to resolve to be in a place of trust in the promises you have been given. Has God shared His vision for your life with you? I’m sure He has in one way or another. If you haven’t seen it yet, stop what you’re doing right now and earnestly seek His will for whatever ministries you are involved in. Man will do many things to distract you from God’s promised restoration as you seek your God given name, just as Jacob experienced through his deal with Laban.

 

There is a deeper message that lies within this particular chapter of Jacob’s life that resounds with echoes of contention. It is a message that is often overlooked. We’ve made it a point to bring this message into light. This message serves to remind us that God’s blessings are all around us. In spite of Laban’s deceitful trick, God provides Jacob with the means to build an entire nation through Leah and the other maidservants. While Jacob’s eyes are still set on the life he longs for with Rachel, God begins to put something even more amazing in place.

 

God has put everything together in one cohesive plan for each of us. While the road may sometimes be longer than expected, there is always a reason for it. Along the way, as you wait for the promises you’ve been given, God is giving you something even more beautiful. In the end, God will see that it is good, and eventually, you too will see the same. Don’t be discouraged in your present circumstance. God’s promises will eventually manifest in the world around you.

 

Your heart may be burning with a fire so hot that you’re bursting at the seams with the vision you have for your ministry, and while the time may not be now, it will come. “Yet God has made everything beautiful in its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end” (Ecc. 3:11 NLT).

 

God has given you a beautiful promise, and He has planted that promise within your heart of hearts. While you may not see its manifestation in the present moment, it will eventually come. God is doing something right before your eyes, if only you’d look beyond the world around you and into the one He is building within. Trust in God’s promises and work diligently to embrace them, but in the process don’t forget to see the wonderful blessings he has already bestowed upon you.

The Desire & Your True Need

Jacob’s Struggle to Embrace God’s Promised Future

 

Gen. 29: 31-35 & 30: 1-22

 

 

Though Jacob never wanted Leah, she ends up playing a vital role in his life. God saw that Leah wasn’t loved by Jacob and blessed her with an open womb, while Rachel was barren. Talk about a complicated family drama. Jacob loves Rachel more, but she is unable to give him the seeds to grow God’s promise. For this reason alone I have to imagine that Leah suddenly seems to have a bit more value in his eyes. Regardless of all of her beauty and lovely qualities, Rachel can’t give Jacob the one thing he needs to fulfill God’s promise. And in this aspect, she may not be as vital to his purpose as he first thought.

 

Jacob’s story from word one is filled with men and women that you can’t help but empathize with. This clustered web between two sisters vying for their husband’s attention is melodramatic, baffling, and at times almost unbelievable. On the surface, it’s the closest thing the Bible has to a soap opera. Yet, when you dig deeper into it, you see each sister vying less for Jacob and more for their purpose.

 

Rachel, much like Jacob, wishes she had been born first, and though she is the beautiful one out of her and Leah, she values the position of firstborn even more. Why? Even though she saw Jacob first and fell in love with him, it was her sister’s place that gave her the chance to be his wife first.

 

With Leah, you see someone who would give up her position just to have what her younger sister does. Rachel puts more value in the position; Leah puts more value in being beautiful and loved. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

 

The drama begins when Leah gives Jacob four sons to Rachel’s none: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. So, as was custom back in the day, if the wife were unable to bear a child, she would give her maid to her husband in her place. Rachel gives her maid Bilhah to Jacob as wife #3 and surrogate, claiming the children Bilhah has as her own. Bilhah has two sons: Dan and Naphtali. Leah, always in the middle of competition with her sister and currently unable to have more children, follows suit and has her maid Zilpah be wife #4 to Jacob and bear more children in her place. She has two as well: Gad and Asher. God has three more blessings to give to Leah: Issachar, Zebulun, and her only daughter Dinah.

 

Now you would think this would have put Leah in a better standing with Jacob, considering she had given him six sons and one daughter, but it becomes apparent what Jacob truly values when God answers Rachel’s plea and opens her womb. Joseph is born, and finally, the only woman he ever wanted as his wife has his eleventh son. His other children hold great value to him, but coming from women he doesn’t value as he values Rachel has still cheapened their position in his life.

 

The message to be taken from this is that God can bring fruit from many different places. Be careful not to overlook different people in your ministry, because you never know how God is going to bring His plan together. Just think, if Jacob had only counted the fruit that came from Rachel as legitimate, he would have had two sons instead of twelve, and the twelve tribes of Judah would never have come to exist.

 

Jacob’s Fruit came from many different places, but still served God’s purpose all the same. Don’t get so caught up in one avenue of your ministry that you miss the full potential of what God is trying to do. And remember, God doesn’t always work in the way we expect Him to. If He did, He wouldn’t be God. His ways are higher than ours!

 

God can use anything and anyone to bring his plans into reality. The message here relates both to Jacob and to his now four wives. Honestly, Jacob is sitting pretty well right now. He has been blessed with many children, and God has used the three women he’d rather not have to build the foundation for what’s to come.

 

Think about it for a moment, God had promised Jacob he would father a nation, and God indeed was planting the seeds for that promise, but Rachel in her barrenness had yet to give him a child that could build upon that promise.  I’m sure she was asking herself, “Why am I here, Lord? What is your plan for me?” That answer would not come until eleven other children had been born to Jacob by his other wives. In the midst of her longing to give Jacob a child, the other wives battled for his love. Regardless of the fact that she hadn’t bore him any children, Rachel was still the favorite.

 

In the beginning, Jacob holds this child, Joseph; in a higher place than the other ten brothers and the daughter he’d been given. Can you imagine the hurt those three wives felt? They spent what seemed like an eternity seeking Jacob’s affections only to have it transfer to a son they had not given birth to. Pastor, there are times, and you may be doing this even now, when you are overlooking the fruits of your labor; (no pun intended.) Take a moment to step back and look at the ministry you are building. I’m sure you have several different aspects in play at this time. Do you see the fruits of the work you’ve been doing? Where are they coming from? Do you even see where the seeds you have planted are growing, or are you so focused on finding the result of your vision that you’ve missed the growth around you?

 

Just like many pastors out there, I’ve been in this place before. God had given me a vision for the future of a ministry, and I became so focused on building that vision that I never noticed the fruits of the labor that had already started to come forth. These were aspects of ministry that were flourishing, and that could have been built into something even more than I could have ever imagined. However, my narrow-mindedness, much like Jacob’s and that of his wives, kept me from seeing the potential that was already there.

 

  If I had taken the time to look around and notice the fruit around me, things might have turned out differently. There is another side to this, though. Sometimes, dear Pastor, the fruit your labor bears is only meant to flourish while you are there.

 

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree; they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will thrive in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age; they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.’” (Psalm 92:12-15 NIV)

 

When we see the fruit around us taking shape in our lives and in our ministries, God reveals the intricacies of His promises, just as He was doing when He gave Jacob eleven sons and one daughter from three wives he never actually planned on having in the first place. Finding value in the intricacies of God’s promises will serve to bear more fruit than one will ever be able to comprehend.

Leaving the Past Behind

Jacob’s Journey to a New Beginning

 

Gen. 30: 25-43

 

 

I find it fascinating that Jacob only decides to move his family and livestock away from Laban’s land once Rachel has had Joseph. He seems to use Rachel as a spiritual thermometer, testing the water of God’s timing through her. At this point, Jacob has twelve children, eleven sons, and one daughter, but he didn’t feel compelled to move on until the birth of Rachel’s first. You can look at this one of two ways: You can decide to see it as blatant favoritism that lines up with his overall treatment of Rachel in contrast to Leah up to this point, or you can choose to see it as him being able to recognize and discern that God has brought him and his family into a new season.

 

Personally, I feel it’s a mixture of both. His other children are not illegitimate, but they also aren’t miracles in the sense that a barren womb has been opened to bring them forth. The importance Jacob placed on Rachel, though unfair to Leah, is not entirely misplaced. In fact, Joseph being born was a sign of a new season because, Joseph, much like Jacob, is the culmination of what has come before. Though the eleventh son, he is placed first in Jacob’s eyes because Jacob can sense his importance when it comes to God fulfilling His promise.

 

There is something special about this boy, something that sets him apart from the rest. The fact that he comes from Rachel goes to show that God always had her marked off as an essential piece in His plan. When God opens up her womb, it’s a sign to Jacob that he is opening up a new chapter in his life.

 

However, knowing what we do about Laban, it’s no surprise that trying to leave his land is easier said than done. He has received 20 years of service from Jacob, fourteen for Rachel and another six after that. His land is flourishing; his livestock is almost innumerable. He doesn’t want to lose a faithful servant he has taken advantage of time and time again. And even worse, he is convinced that every good thing he has belongs to him when in reality Laban is only blessed because Jacob is on his property.

 

When you feel that God has called you to move on in ministry, it’s important to understand that a flourishing ministry is not always indicative of a full anointing. In fact, if God has you moving on, it’s possible that you are the only reason the rest of the church is blessed, and once you leave, the blessing will follow you right out the door.

 

God knows the heart of His people. He knows what motivations push a ministry forward and will either bless them for the pure intention or will punish them by removing the blessing entirely. And when he removes the blessing, he removes a person. If you know a church to be corrupt, don’t ever let them convince you that the blessing is them. You are the blessing, and once you leave, their flourishing season will immediately begin to wither.

 

Laban must have known this. Think about this for a moment. Why did Laban trick Jacob into staying longer in the first place? Yes, we are aware that he was selfish and wanted to hand his eldest daughter off to someone else first, but there must have been a deeper reasoning behind it.  In the first seven years that Jacob served Laban, things began to change. He may not have known the exact reason behind it, but he was aware that there was something special about Jacob, and truthfully, he was probably worried that all the blessings he’d been given in the time Jacob served would disappear.

It is a proven fact that God blesses us when we are faithful to Him and that He leaves us to our own accord when we choose otherwise. Just read the book of Judges or the story of King Saul and King David. Both of these, while in the Old Testament, speak of the removal of God’s blessing. Dear Pastor, you may only be where you are at because of how faithful you’ve been in your walk with God. You may only be where you are at so God can use you to remind those around you of what His blessings truly are. If this is the case, then God indeed will keep His blessings upon you wherever you may end up.

 

If I’m honest though, you may be where you are at because you haven’t been faithful, and God’s left you to your own accord. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what we’ve been trying to accomplish in life that God has placed you in your current predicament to remind you that it’s time to come back to Him. This happens more than you may think. For Laban, the birth of Joseph may very well have been God’s leading for Jacob to move on. This would not have been easy for Laban to accept though. For Jacob, God saw his faithfulness and blessed him for it. You may feel God is leading you to move on as well. Don’t be afraid to do so, but pursue this with caution.

God may very well be leading you to move on, but you will need to ensure that He is. Ask him to confirm this desire of yours in some way or another. There are three ways He usually validates things:

 

  1.    Through Prayer

  2.    Through Scripture

  3.    Through Others

 

As you spend time in prayer, ask God to show you His desire for your life, then take some time to read through the scriptures and see if anything in particular sticks out to you and be open to the fact that God may be leading you to stay where you’re at. Finally, seek guidance from someone you look up to and make sure it’s someone you know is a true man or woman of God.

 

Once you have asked God to confirm His desire for your life, it will be important to stand by that confirmation. Don’t hesitate to begin the process of moving on in your life. All too often God is preparing us for something more or different and we, just as Jacob did at first, hesitate to do so. If we delay too long and stay where we are at, God’s blessing may depart from us.  Thankfully, Jacob sought God’s leading, the guidance of those closest to him, and embraced the calling God had given them to move on and depart from Laban’s lands.

Changing Your Perspective

Laban Pursues Jacob & His Family

 

Gen. 30: 22-55 & 31:1-55

 

 

To continue where we left off, Jacob tries reasoning with Laban before ever fleeing from him. When he knows God is calling him back to his homeland of Canaan, he does the honorable thing for a dishonorable man and tries to receive his blessing.

 

Laban doesn’t want to lose his servant, which is understandable considering he has lowered Jacob’s wages ten times in the twenty years he has worked for him. If you operated under dishonesty, wouldn’t you do the same? I mean talk about a steal of a deal.

 

Jacob insists that he wants to leave with his wives and children, expecting to receive all the livestock that is rightfully his. Unsurprisingly, Laban argues what exactly belongs to Jacob, negating Jacob’s claim that the livestock only increased when he arrived. Knowing that Laban will never do right by him, Jacob knows that the majority of the livestock is rightfully his and sets out to prove so by taking only the livestock that have speckles, spots, or blemishes on them as a wage. He tells Laban that this will be a sign of ownership, which tickles Laban in all the right places since it is a small minority compared to the large, spotless majority.

 

However, God vindicates Jacob by having a vast majority of every animal born from then on be born with speckles, spots, or blemishes. That’s not all though. The few that are born to Laban are thin and small while the ones born to Jacob are thick and healthy, due to the pattern Jacob uses when watching Laban’s livestock.

 

Jacob accrues a considerable amount of sheep, all speckled or spotted. And though it is a sign of God’s provision and a clear sign as to who the rightful owner is, Laban reasons within himself and tells his sons that everything Jacob has is only because he has taken it from him. Jacob overhears Laban’s sons talking. Laban, dishonorable through and through, has proven not only to be dishonest but hardhearted.

 

So, Jacob gathers his wives, children, and all the livestock that belong to him and they flee from Laban’s property. They travel a three days’ distance away before Laban, and his brethren pursue them.

Anybody that has been in a church that is operating outside of God’s Will knows what it’s like when you decide to flee for good. A reputation lingers in the air; bad blood is left in what is supposed to be the body of Christ itself. You know that you were operating under God’s will, but fear that everything is going to be judged based on the surface alone. And usually based on the surface alone, you look like the guilty party because you have entered into an established system. You leaving can be seen as something you did when, in fact, the contrary is true.

 

How can this possibly be encouraging? If you follow Laban on his pursuit, you find that he has some definite delusions of grandeur. He can’t see what he’s done wrong and has convinced himself that Jacob is a thief and a liar that has robbed him blind. His pursuit is to take back what is “rightfully” his.

 

When dealing with God, the perception of our actions is ultimately irrelevant because God, being the only One fit to judge, has the final say. After traveling seven days, Laban is positioned to overtake Jacob in the mountains of Gilead. This could have been a dreadful situation for Jacob and his family, but God had come to Laban in a dream by night and warned him, “Be careful that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad” (Genesis 31: 24 NKJV). Though words are exchanged on their meeting, they are words of an understanding finally being reached!

 

You may be in a situation right now where it feels like it’s your word against theirs. But, God has shown time and time again that He keeps all records of right and wrong and that He balances the scales accordingly. If you are in the right, God will make it known and bring you through it! We already know that God blesses those that are faithful to Him and this part of Jacob’s story is just another revelation of that very promise. Pastor, you are either relating more to Laban at this point or have found a connection with Jacob. Let me assure you, there are lessons to be learned from both sides of this particular story.

 

Laban knows that change is just around the corner and desires to hold on to everything he can just so he doesn’t lose what he’s gained from Jacob’s service. Jacob knows God has given him the nudge and it’s time to move on. From Laban, we can learn that there will be times when we have to let go of what God has done in our lives, and from Jacob we can learn that there will be times when we need to embrace what God has promised us. Both lessons are good lessons to learn, and both are connected to each other.

 

There are going to be times when God will give you the word, and it will be a chance to take that next step in your walk. What you need to understand is that when He does give you that nudge, you will indeed have to let go of what you have been a part of. This is never easy. Just thinking about this has always stressed me out.  There have been times in which I have spent hours upon hours building something that I know will reap some great results, only to have to let go because of God’s calling to move on. However, there have also been those ministry outreaches that I have put all my time into only to have them go someplace else as soon as they get the chance.

 

Either way, God had a reason for it all, and He has a reason for everything you are going through now. You may very well even feel like there is something more you are meant to do, but there are those around you that are encouraging otherwise. This is a sign that something needs to change. With Jacob and Laban, they both felt the need to pursue the path they felt was meant for them. The difference was that Jacob got his direction from God and Laban got his direction from his self-interest. This is going to be something you will have to work through, and you will need to determine if you are pursuing the path that comes from God or the path of pure self-interest.

 

Dear Pastor, determining this comes down to one thing, and in the end, Laban understood. That one thing is quite easy to take into consideration: “What is it that God has in store for me?” Once you have taken this into account, you will begin to see where He is leading. It is God’s intent that we all find and accept His will for our lives. Just as the streaks of ownership showed that it was the Lord’s will for Jacob to take what was rightfully his, in time, He will make the path He desires for you clear.

 

God sees all and vindicates those that righteously pursue His will for their lives. When those around you attempt to derail His plan, God will step in to make His divine will be known. In the end, His will and desires for you will always come into the light.

 

The Battle for the Heart

Jacob’s Wrestles with God

 

Gen. 32: 1-32

 

 

Now, I’m not sure if it’s because hindsight is 20/20, but you can feel that Jacob is on the cusp of a life-changing breakthrough as soon as he and Laban come to an understanding. There are many things you can take from the twenty years he spent serving this crooked, dishonest man. But, the one that sticks out to me the most is that Laban was a punishment he willingly endured. Knowing what he had done to his brother weighed on him significantly. I believe he gave twenty painstaking years as atonement for his betrayal. Yes, he got Rachel—and Leah—for his years of service, but it wasn’t until God made it clear that the time had come for him to move back to his homeland of Canaan that Jacob felt ready to contact his brother again.

 

To truly step into a new season, you must face your old fears. There is no fear older or more affecting in Jacob’s life than his brother Esau because it fully represents who he is still running from. Now that he and Laban have come to an understanding concerning which land belongs to each of them, he is confident enough in God’s leading to reach out to his brother. He sends his messengers to plead with his brother, offering a significant portion of his livestock as a peace offering. The initial contact his messengers make seems to spell destruction for Jacob. Esau hasn’t only received his message, he is bringing along four hundred men to meet him. This is an intimidating move, considering the fact that their last meeting involved Jacob fleeing for his very life.

 

But, the man we see now is far different from the one that fled twenty years before. Filled to the brim with God’s promise, He begins to stand on God’s word alone. Of course, he fears for his life, but he knows what God promised. He knows that he will be the one to fulfill God’s promise that He first made to Abraham. Esau can’t kill him; it would negate God’s word, which just isn’t possible.

 

Afraid for his life while simultaneously trusting of God’s promise, he takes his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons and crosses over the ford of Jabbok. He has them separate from him until he is completely alone. Finally, the stage is set for the wrestling match that every moment of Jacob’s life has been leading him to. He begins to wrestle with a Man in the field until the break of day. Even then, neither has prevailed. The Man tells him to let go now that day has broken, but Jacob will not unless the Man blesses him. The Man asks his name. Jacob gives the one he has always known only to be told his name is no longer Jacob but Israel, for he has wrestled with God and with men and prevailed.

 

Only ten small verses are dedicated to this wrestling match. It is purposefully vague and up for interpretation. And even though the Bible reads as if only a night passed, I believe eternity overlapped, and the struggle lasted far longer in the spirit than just one night. Why? Jacob didn’t trip into his God given name; he fought for it. He was determined to step into God’s calling instead of witnessing his murky past pull him down once again. He fought, and he won, but it didn’t come to him for free. God touches his hip, shrinking it away from the tendon, leaving him with a limp for the rest of his life. This was always set to be a Holy reminder of what happened that night: you can’t wrestle with God and be unchanged.

 

When you wrestle with God, your flesh is wrestling your spirit. If you want to step into the name God has for you, your flesh cannot have control over you. A moment must come where you are fed up continuing through the same cycles. A moment must come where you are willing to wrestle until the break of day, regardless of how long that takes.

 

You may be in the wrestling match as we speak. Let Jacob’s story encourage you through the struggle. It hurts now, but when you get to the other side, you will find that the name God has for you is worth every hurt and every pain. Bearing the pain you’ve endured in life is no easy task and there comes the point at which you can take that pain no longer. I’ve been there; I know. At first, I thought that I was being punished for something I had done wrong in the eyes of the Lord, but as I have grown in my journey with God, I have learned that this is not necessarily the reason behind that pain.  When I think about the pain Jacob bore from his hip after he wrestled with God, I am reminded of all that Job went through in his life. The pain he endured was more than just physical, and I believe it was the same way with Jacob.

 

I would imagine that Jacob’s former life haunted him greatly and that he was indeed fighting more than one battle the night he wrestled with God. He had to come to terms with himself and with God. If I were to depict this struggle in a painting or a drawing there would be three figures: Jacob in the middle with his former self on one side and the angel of God on the other. Think about it for a moment. To move forward, Jacob would have to face his past, as we all do. As the battle went on, I can’t help but think that everything he’d ever been through flashed before his eyes. It was the same as when Job began to lose everything that had been given to him as well. When you wrestle with God, it will be the same for you.

 

Seeing the pain he brought upon those closest to him flash before his eyes must have been incredibly hard to work through, yet it was entirely necessary because working through the pain is the only way to grow. Wrestling with God without finding yourself radically changed is impossible. The change never actually happens overnight either. Many have fallen into the deception that it does; I’ve been there before and know that it takes a lifetime of learning and growing with God. In some ways, that wrestling match with our former selves never ends because if we are always moving forward in our journey with God, the change never truly ends.  I know that your heart’s desire may simply be to overlook everything you’ve been going through and that you are probably just hoping this match will eventually come to an end, but I must encourage you to stop ignoring the wrestling match before you and begin finding ways to keep wrestling.

 

Bearing this pain can be very difficult; many Biblical characters who wrestled with their former selves were left with the pain that it left behind. Jacob bore the pain of his wrestling match within his hip (Gen 22:25); Paul bore the pain of his through poor eyesight and the thorn in his flesh (2 Cor. 12:1-10). David endured the pain of knowing that his son would build the temple of God instead of him (1 Chron. 22:7-9), and Jeremiah bore the pain of broken people who turned from God (Jer. 15:18).

 

Many others could be named, but the point here is that you, dear pastor, are not alone. We all have our wrestling matches in life. I am bearing the pain that my wrestling matches have left behind even today as I write this. It has only been in the past few years that I have begun to find ways to embrace the healing measures that our great God offers us along the journey.

 

As we have said already, it hurts now, but eventually, you will find the healing you desire, and you will receive your God given name. The pains we must bear in this life will always be present, but God provides ways for us to endure the pain of our past so that we can embrace the days ahead.

Becoming “The New Man”

Israel Surrenders Himself to God

 

Gen. 35: 16-19 & 37: 1-35

 

Jacob finds that Esau does not want to kill him, but openly accept and forgive him. God’s promise of protection continues, and Jacob’s past suddenly seems like it is truly behind him. But, if you fast forward a bit, the landscape begins to darken. Rachel (the only woman he loved) dies in childbirth to give him Benjamin, the final son that will never hold the same particular position Joseph holds; he re-establishes his family in the land of Canaan, a new man, but also a man that has lost the main component to who he is. Yes, he’s now Israel, but earning the name God always had for him has come at a devastating cost.

 

As has been previously covered in earlier chapters, Rachel has always been tied into his destiny. When he is given the name Israel, when he hears that he has ‘wrestled with God and with men and has prevailed,’ you would think that would mean the best days are up ahead. The contrary seems to be true. He earns his God-given name but loses his love. Because of this, he embellishes feelings he can no longer give her and instead packages them in an off-putting and offensive display of favoritism toward Joseph.

 

You have to wonder if in some way Israel was showing such favoritism to Joseph over his other sons to make up for the fact that he had been tricked into marrying Leah in the first place. She wanted nothing more than to be loved by him, but his eyes were for Rachel and Rachel alone. I wonder if it would feel like meticulously packing a bag for a trip only to be given a random bag last minute: he didn’t know Leah and didn’t care to open up the bag to find out. He had worked seven years for Rachel’s hand, only to be tricked into marrying Leah first. You also have to wonder if he resented his other children because they came from women he never loved. Maybe his level of love for them came into full focus when Rachel finally gave him a son. Maybe they suddenly seemed counterfeit in comparison.

 

The Bible doesn’t go into great detail about why. It simply says that ‘he loved Joseph most because he had him in his old age’ (Genesis 37:3). Age had very little to do with it. As this journey has shown us, Rachel had everything to do with it. His love for Rachel was his undoing in many ways because he cheapened every child that came before his first “legitimate” child.

 

This ultimately led his sons to sell Joseph into slavery, fabricate a tale about a wild animal causing his death, and leaving Israel (a new man) with very little left to live for. So, what has happened to this man? What has happened to the father of nations? How has he stepped into God’s name for him only to lose Rachel, lose Joseph, and nearly lose his will to live? Why is darkness his new reality when it seems like he finally left the darkness of his past behind him?

 

Consequences travel. Many times we expect an immediate repercussion for our decisions when they often come much farther down the line. A consequence is not something that is experienced once and forgotten. More often than not it ties into a season of harvest: as good things are starting to bloom forth, you also see the weeds. Israel has officially entered the time of his life that will bring the most fruit. But, it will also bring him a level of pain and struggle he has never experienced before. What does this mean? God is setting the stage for something huge!

 

There will be times when you begin to see a change in your ministry, and with that change will come challenges. It may seem as though things are finally turning around only to fall back to a place of challenge and struggle. This is part of the process. Just because God has given you the vision to pursue doesn’t mean that you don’t still have to deal with past mistakes. Those mistakes you made in your youth will help define your future if you find ways to learn from them. It will be important for you to prepare yourself for your past to make itself known again at any point along your journey. The consequences of those actions don’t simply disappear; take courage though, because being prepared to deal with those consequences will help mold you into the person, or minister of God, you were called to be.

 

At this point in Israel’s story, everything seems to be going very well, but that doesn’t mean that his past still doesn’t have a role to play in the future he is trying to build with his family. Rachel had given birth to who many say was Israel’s Miracle Child. Indeed, Joseph was loved more than the others, as we have already shared. However, there was still a lesson that needed to be learned, and it would open the door to the fulfillment of God’s promise to this man who wrestled with God. Let’s not go overboard here and say that God deliberately brings pain and suffering into our lives to teach us certain lessons, but there is merit in saying that Israel brought this trial upon himself and that God would use it to mold him into his God-given purpose even more.

 

As we have been building through this entire book, the pains we must bear in this life will always be there for us to deal with, but God takes pleasure in turning bad things into beautiful promises of His great love for us. You may be working through the consequences of your past even now, but there is comfort in knowing that God desires to take those moments and mold them into glorious new victories along your journey. Learning from our past is what inspires us to embrace the future we know we’ve been promised.

 

There are going to be moments, though, that we lose sight of the calling we have been given. In doing so, our eyes will be overshadowed with visions of our stubborn desires, instead of focusing our attention on honoring God as we are meant to. When we patiently wait for his guidance, we learn not to take things into our hands. This will ultimately lead to failure if not kept in check, which is why we all need to continually endure the trials that come with learning from our mistakes. Israel has moved into a season of life that will test him more than any before.  It is a time of pruning. He has begun to embrace his God-given name and will see the fruit of this, but he will also have to be pruned. The things of old will soon pass away, and the wonders of God will begin to flood into his broken heart, eventually propelling him into the future that was promised to his ancestors from the beginning. You too may be at this point in your life, dear pastor. Take this opportunity to reflect upon what God has promised you and prepare yourself for what’s coming: a new and beautiful life

The Life Raft

Israel Accepts the Tragedy of Losing a Son and His Beloved.

 

Gen. 37: 34-35 & 42: 3-4

 

Believing Joseph to be dead, Israel holds on to Benjamin like a life raft. He is not Joseph. He will never hold that same place Joseph held. But, he is still a connection to Rachel, and without him, Israel would almost definitely crawl up into a ball and let whatever life remains to slip out of him. Benjamin isn’t what Israel entirely wants; he doesn’t need to be. Benjamin is used as a life raft to keep Israel afloat while God positions the pieces in Egypt to bring Joseph from the lowly place of a servant to royalty.

 

Often God gives us just enough to hold on to through the dry seasons to keep us from giving up altogether. I don’t know why hopelessness usually follows a transition from one season to the next. I only know that God gave Israel a word to hold on to and a life raft in Benjamin to keep him from sinking. Why just a life raft? Whether we like it or not, in dry seasons God never gives us more than we need to stay afloat because He wants us to hold on to His Word above everything else.

 

If He were to allow us an island to wait on while He moves the pieces in place, history shows that we would grow tired of waiting and instead erect an idol in His place. He doesn’t afford us an island; often we drift among the storm waves, holding on to what He has given us with all we have. We don’t realize it at the time, but we are being strengthened through every moment.

 

Israel only knew what God had told Him. A lofty, stratospheric, unimaginable prophecy rang in his head while his surroundings screamed that God would never fulfill his promise. Our surroundings will ALWAYS run contrary to what God has told us He will do. This reality is rarely the reason it’s so difficult to accept. The hardest part is the timing of it: as soon as it seems like God has fulfilled part of His promise, things begin to fall apart all around you.  While thinking you have finally entered an easier season, things suddenly become even more challenging.

 

At this point, if Israel’s story were written in the present it would be filled with many time lapses. Anybody that has lived in a dry season where God seems absent and His promise couldn’t seem farther away can relate. If we could write our stories, there would be no time lapses. We would go from one milestone to the next, sacrificing growth for results. If Israel could have chosen his path, it definitely wouldn’t have included his favorite son being sold into slavery. In fact, like most of us, he would have opted to keep his son as close to him as possible and would have unknowingly forfeited fathering the nation of Israel.

 

Left to our own devices and instincts, we will always choose the comfortable path even if that means sacrificing God’s path. All I can tell you is to be like Israel: hold on to the life raft you’ve been given and know that God is faithful to fulfill every promise He has made to you. Don’t be afraid of what’s coming; God is with you. Things may get ugly for a time, but there will always be something for you to hold on to. There will always be a blessing you can take to heart as you maneuver your way through the storm that is brewing around you.

 

Remember, God likes to take the bad things that happen in life and use them to mold us into who we are meant to be.  He did this with Joseph. Even though his brothers had sold him into slavery, God was with him.  Even though things seem impossible, God can still use them to fulfill his promises to us. In this part of our story, Israel believed Joseph was dead, but he was able to work through it, having Benjamin close by. On the other side of the coin, as we’ve already mentioned, Joseph is blessed even in the midst of the darkness around him.

 

Neither of these things was the biggest and brightest piece of hope Israel, and Joseph, could hold on to, were they? God gave them what they needed. He encouraged them with the simple things. For Israel, a small piece of the love he had for Rachel and Joseph in the form of another son he could give his heart to. For Joseph, a place of honor in the house of Potiphar and a few dreams he could interpret then led to being appointed Pharaoh’s right-hand man.

 

At first, these two lifeboats seem pointless, but in time they pave the way for the nation God had promised; who knows what would have happened if Joseph was never sold into slavery. We just spoke about how being left to our devices could have changed the outcome of history. If we aren’t holding on to our hope in God with everything we are, we can easily get distracted by the temptations of humanity.

Dear Pastor, you may be feeling this in your own heart even now. Are you holding on to your own devices instead of holding onto the promises that God has bestowed upon you? Are you letting your past get the upper hand when it comes to embracing your God-given calling?  I know there have been times when I have done just that.  I may still have a long life to live, but all of us have a past, and all of us have been given a calling, a God-given purpose.

 

It is when we take the moments of struggle and failure from our pasts and embrace the hope, the lifeboats that only God can provide, that we will begin to see the fruit of our labor. Instead of focusing on the result of that promise and choosing our path, our eyes should be concentrated on embracing the small glimmer of hope our ancestors did. Trust in God’s plan, dear pastor, because you are not going to get there on your own.

 

Just as Israel was given a little glimmer of hope in the form of Benjamin, and Joseph was given that same ray of hope through interpreting the dreams of Pharaoh and the others, we too are given small glimmers of hope in our lives as well.  Take comfort, dear pastor, in the hope of God’s promise for your life; in time you will see His promised future come to fruition.  We promise you it will indeed be a sight to see. Your God given purpose and name is out there waiting for God to give it to you, so that, you too will see what God desires for us all; an incredible future engulfed in his love and glory.

Embracing God’s Promise

Israel Gives it All Embracing the Culmination of God’s Promise to Abraham

 

Gen. 42-47

 

Many years have passed since Joseph’s “death.” And Israel has grown old in age waiting for God to fulfill His promise. He only knows that seven years of luscious prosperity has suddenly become a devastating famine.  So, he sends his sons to Egypt to buy grain to prevent starvation.

 

We know the story. We know that Joseph is now second only to Pharaoh himself and has utilized his God-given wisdom to prepare for this unfortunate time by storing seven years’ worth of grain away. We know that God has positioned all of the pieces and Israel will soon witness the culmination of a promise first given to Abraham. Because we know what’s to come, it’s easy to cheapen Israel’s position, especially because, for the last several chapters of Genesis, Israel becomes a footnote to Joseph’s struggle and rise to power.

No one focuses on Israel when pulling revelation from these events. God’s faithfulness to Joseph is front and center, while Israel’s begins to fade to the background. A man who has wrestled with his God-given name through every trial has now reduced to an old man still waiting for God’s promise to come to pass.

 

I want you to look at the lineage of this promise. God took a moon worshipper named Abram and told him that if he were to leave his land and follow Him into the unknown, He would give him descendants beyond a calculable number. And by choosing to trust God, Abram’s name was changed to Abraham. The promise was offered to him, but he never saw it come to pass in his life.

 

He simply planted the seed. Isaac carried the same promise with him through the duration of his life and yet he also never got to see the promise come to fruition. And now Israel, nearing the end of his life seems to be doomed to the same fate. As far as he can tell, nothing has been set in place to bring the promise forth in his lifetime. In fact, it seems more hopeless than ever, now with a famine beginning to set in.

 

This is the man who will witness the culmination of God’s promise to Abraham, the man that will be brought into Egypt to joyously find Joseph alive and in a position of unparalleled power, The man who will settle in the land of Goshen and die seventeen years later knowing that God is faithful to His word. This is the man who will witness what his grandfather and father before him were only able to dream of.

 

But, as we sit with him right now, aged and holding on to what little faith remains, we are witness to a man we can fully relate to. He doesn’t see what is going on in Egypt. The only son that hasn’t left on the journey to buy grain is Benjamin because Israel fears that he will lose him just as he lost Joseph so many years before. He’s still holding on to his life raft.

 

And even he is taken from him. When his sons return, he finds out Simeon is in prison, and his bail comes at a high price: Benjamin must go with his brothers…The life raft God has left Israel with has now been taken away. He’s left completely alone, sure that he will lose Benjamin just the same.

 

I find it fitting to end this final installment not with Israel entering into Egypt to witness the culmination of God’s promise but instead a short time before. When things couldn’t look bleaker, and the waves couldn’t seem more tumultuous, Israel goes all in. He still believes God is faithful to fulfill His promise and come off his life raft. And he will be rewarded for it soon enough!

 

Indeed, God is faithful. His plan for us will always come to fruition.  There will be times, dear pastor, when you will probably relate more to Abraham or Isaac; just as there will be times when you will relate more to Jacob, now called Israel.  What matters in the end is simply this: we are called to witness the love of God to all those we encounter. This requires that we give our all to Him who can do immeasurable things. At times, our journey will be a difficult one, and that is entirely okay. All of us have a past, and that past will help define who you become in the future that has been promised.

 

Instead of letting the struggles we face in life take our focus away from that promise, we as pastors and ministers of the Gospel of His unending love are given the opportunity to give those struggles back to Him. In doing so, we embark on a journey that will eventually lead to the God-given name we were all meant to have. This is the hope that we are tasked with taking to heart. This is the belief that we are called to build our entire lives upon, and this is the hope that will eventually lead us into the life God has promised us from the beginning of time.

 

Serving in ministry is never going to be an easy task; it was never meant to be. Dear pastor, you may think that you know everything about what you are doing, but not one of us is perfect; that title belongs to Jesus. Each of us has a past that we are running from. It is time for us to stop running. Israel ran from God’s call for years, and it leads him into many life-altering experiences that all lead up to the eventual Culmination of God’s Promise. However, there was one thing that Israel had left to do before this could happen, and that was, as we’ve mentioned before, let go. It was the hardest sacrifice Israel ever had to make, and he wasn’t able to let go of it completely until he gave all of himself, all of his dreams, all that he loved, and all that he was.

 

It was that same sacrifice that was given for each of us, and it is the same sacrifice that we will have to offer to God before he presents us with our God given name. It will be the journey of a lifetime. There will be many ups and many downs, but as we are faithful, God is faithful. Dear pastor, each day is another opportunity for you to give yourself back to God. Each day is another chance to open your heart and let His love for you guide your path to the peace you often long for and desire. Remind yourself that the manifestation of the promises we receive from God will always come at the right moment. Our struggles will often be beyond our control, but God’s plan will always find a way to blossom in our hearts. Finding value in the intricacies of that promise will serve to bear more fruit than we will ever be able to comprehend.

 

The final message we have for you is this: if God has promised you something, He will do it. But, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will witness the culmination. You may be Abraham, who simply planted the seed. Or you may be Israel, who saw God’s mighty picture fully form in his lifetime. Regardless, do not get caught up in how it will happen or when it will be; just trust Him daily, knowing without a doubt that He is faithful!

 

Accept that God’s plan for your life will lead you along a journey that will never cease to amaze you. God will mold your heart through the good times and the bad, and while it may seem hopeless at times, hope is always there. As you wrestle for your God given name, God will show you many wonderful blessings even in the midst of the struggle. It is up to you to embrace them. Just as Jacob gave his all to become Israel, we too must do the same to see His promises fully come to fruition.

Part Two

 

 

The Pillars of Jacob

 

 

 

Abridged Version

Gen 28:18-22

God is with me and will be my guide.

 

Let’s face it; serving in ministry is a daunting task. There are often times in which we are bound to feel lost. But what we need to remember is that God is always with us, you, dear pastor, are not alone. Just as God showed Jacob the path he was meant to follow, our path too will be shown to us.

 

——-

 

Today is your opportunity to embark upon a journey. Think about a time you have felt alone in ministry…

 

When you look back upon that moment, after reading through this book are their points in which you can now connect with God’s guidance in your life?

 

I know in the moment it can be difficult to see those things, but I do see that God was working.

 

Don’t be afraid to thank him for doing so today…

Gen 31:44-55

God watches over us, sees all things, and will hold us accountable to them.

 

As ministers we need to be held accountable to what we commit to doing, whatever it may be. God is watching our every move and will hold us accountable to what we claim to be and do. There are going to be times when we have to protect ourselves from breaking those promises; sometimes it may even require us to part ways with certain aspects of our lives just like Laban and Jacob had to.

——-

 

Today is your opportunity to embark upon a journey. Think about a time you were held accountable by God for something you had done…

 

What did you learn then and what do you see today that can help remind you that God is watching over you?

 

It may be time to spend a few moments asking yourself how you can hold yourself accountable to Gods plan in your life.

 

Don’t be afraid to do so today…

 

Gen 33:18-20

God leads us down the path we are meant to walk in life; it is our job to embrace that path

 

We can run from whatever may be uncomfortable to us but, no matter how far we run, there is always a way back.  At times Jacob may have felt like the path was leading nowhere but, in the end found that he could trust that God would bring him home. God desires to bring us home as well. If we let Him, He will even bless us with the peace that we desire.

 

——-

 

Today is your opportunity to embark upon a journey. Think about a time in which God showed you the path he desired for you…

 

When you look back on those experiences, did you rebel at first, or did you do as God desired and embrace that path?

 

Sometimes it’s not that easy. Your heart tells you to follow God’s path but your mind tells you to do something else.

 

Don’t be afraid to seek ways to embrace Gods path more in your life…

Gen 35:1-7

God will reveal himself and his plans to you when the time is right.

 

Here is the truth: sometimes it can be difficult to see the path that lies ahead. God never promised it would be easy. It sure wasn’t easy for Jacob. In the end he found God’s leading where it all began. Sometimes God is right there trying to show us from the beginning, and we simply don’t think to look for the answers.

 

——-

 

Today is your opportunity to embark upon a journey. Think about a time in which you were left to your own devices, so to speak, when you have pushed God away…

 

Why did you push Him away, what was your motivation and what have you learned that can help you in whatever struggles you face in this moment?

 

Our struggles can easy get the best of us, it is when you give them to God that things begin to change.

 

Don’t be afraid ask for help when you need it the most…

Gen 35:14-15

God Speaks in the most amazing ways, sometimes we just need to be reassured he is there.

 

Reassurance that we are in the midst of God’s will is a very important aspect of our faith. It reminds us that God truly is with us in the midst of our ongoing lives. There are times when we need to reaffirm our calling in ministry, and Jacob’s can serve as a reminder of that. When we do embrace the opportunity to reaffirm our faith in HIM the blessings that follow are unimaginable.

 

——-

 

Today is your opportunity to embark upon a journey. Think about a time in which God spoke to you, whether directly or through someone or something else.

 

How did you respond? After reading through Your God-given Name, Is there a better way to do so? What can you do to reaffirm your faith now that you couldn’t then?

 

Don’t be afraid give those thoughts to God and embrace His promised future for you…

 

About The Author’s

Nate Allen

 

I am a father, a husband, and a man who loves Jesus with all I have. I am also a man who hates what Christianity has become. I hate being affiliated with a title that so poorly represents The King.  And I have dedicated my life to changing that, one word at a time.

 

Apart from Wrestling for Your God Given Name, my first collaborative work, I have written and published three books of my own: CLOUDS, Death is Not the End, Daddy, and The Counterfeit.

 

I believe my purpose in life is to create Holy Spirit led content that bridges the gap between secular and spiritual as well as help inspire others to do the same.    

 

Like my [+ Facebook page+] to follow me on this journey!

Matthew J. Elliott

 

Matthew (MJ Elliott) is someone who is passionate about reaching others for Christ with whatever God places upon his heart to write or speak about. He has served in ministry of some type for 13 years, whether as a volunteer or a minister of the Gospel. While never ordained, his ministry experiences give him a lot of understanding into what ministry is all about and how it has changed.

Matthew and Traci, his wife, have 3 children; Leyla, Caleb, and their newborn daughter Hannah, whom bring inspiration and joy to their lives. His hope for this book is that it will encourage those serving in ministry in a way that is often overlooked by the world around them. Just as he desires God will do something similar with Love the Saints Ministries, he desires God will speak to and encourage all who are able to find their way into the pages of this book.

Other than Wrestling for Your God Given Name , Matthew’s collective works include the following…

 

Ahavah Writings for the Journey (Author), 2015

Reflecting Christmas

(Author), 2015

Devotionals for Men

, 2016

Simple Things

(Author) 2017

 

The Petros Journals (Author) & Finding Philemon (Author) are both also set to release in 2017.

Follow him on any of the following social media networks to join him and Traci on their journey: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, [+Google ++]

 

Epilogue

——-

In Memory of Pastor Rick Hope

 

 

Knowing if it’s the right time for change is possible!

 

Knowing if it is the right time for change is not an easy task. One of the most important things we can do as ministers is to ask ourselves and those we work with “is it a time for change?” Being hopeful through hard times like these is also something we must strive to do. When we are searching for a vision in ministry we need to be willing to spend time asking God for guidance. 

 

Each day one spends with God is another day that He reveals his plans for us. Not just His plans for our ministries but also for our lives.  However, when those plans are revealed, we don’t always feel inclined to immediately pursue it.  Something doesn’t feel right.

 

What are some ways we can better discern the voice of God? How can we become more adept at trusting in God’s timing?  What about our motivation?  Are there times when we do something “for God” but are really doing it for “ourselves”?

 

First of all, God very seldom changes His vision and plan for your life. Your personal vision as well as your vision in ministry becomes more aligned with God’s as you grow and mature spiritually.  In other words, it’s you that changes, not God. He knew what He was doing all along. He had a plan. He just had to wait for you to grow into it.

 

One of the biggest issues comes when we have some big ideas regarding our current plans and we see things beginning to go a different direction. We see that God is actually leading to a change in ministry. There is a part of us that is, of course, excited. But there is another part of us that is apprehensive.

 

[*We have a hard time letting go of our goals and dreams in favor of embracing God’s guidance. Such a situation could best be described as “bittersweet.”  *]  

 

In my personal situation, I have found God to do some amazing things when I have let go of me in favor of Him. Now, you would expect to hear that, but it is a very true statement. I just knew that I had the right idea and plans in mind. I could see God developing a new situation that was not part of my game plan. For some time, I would just ignore it and keep moving things in my own direction. After a while, I would finally have to give in and let God work, but it has, unfortunately, never been without a bit of a fight.

 

As a youth minister several years ago, I had plans to start a ministry to parents. I wanted to plug them into teaching situations, make them lead out in a variety of projects, really give them leadership.  But there was one problem: the majority of my parents were not churchgoers or even Christians. As I began to try and develop this “groundbreaking” ministry, I found myself in totally different conversations with each parent than what I had in mind. Each of the conversations had more to do with the condition of their soul than it had to do with any project I may have been wishing to launch. I eventually had to acknowledge what God was doing, and we began to see an amazing evangelistic ministry form.

 

Finally, there is also when God has given you a clear direction and you have no doubt it is exactly where you want to go. You’ve been through the fire. You’ve been through the motions of trying to do it your own way. Now you are certain, and God has confirmed what He wants to do. One problem: it’s not moving fast enough. You’re excited. You’re anxious. You can’t wait to get started. But God hasn’t opened the gate.  

Let me offer you some encouragement while waiting on God.

 

Consider banana nut bread. Yes, I know that seems like a strange example, but please indulge me.  Every so often, my wife will make amazing banana nut bread. It is one of my favorites! I can’t wait for it to come out of the oven.  In my excitement, I open up the oven and it’s completely perfectly browned and appears ready to go. I’m salivating with two potholders in hand and pull it out to get a slice.  I plunge the knife in and get nothing but a gooey mess. While it appears ready,… it’s not.

 

It is the same way with God and His plans for us and our ministry. From our perspective, it looks ready to start. We can’t figure out what the problem is and why things aren’t moving faster, but if we start ahead of His timing, we may have a big mess and may do more damage to the Kingdom than good.

 

Buckle your seatbelt, get ready to go, but realize you are not in charge of pushing the accelerator!

 

And remember, it’s a divine calling!

 

Grace and Peace, 

Pastor Rick

 

Copyright © 2017 Love the Saints Ministries

All Rights Reserved.

 

Scripture marked (ESV) is taken from ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Scripture marked (NCV) is taken from the Holy Bible, The New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Scripture marked (NLT) is taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

Scripture marked (NIV) is taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

 

Scripture marked (NASB) is taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

 

Scripture marked (NKJV) is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

ISBN: 1536880019 

ISBN-13: 978-1536880014

 


Wrestling for Your God Given Name

Although born to this earth with a name that meant "Trickster" and a fitting reputation to follow, Jacob's God-given name was Israel. Join us as we walk you through twelve defining chapters in Jacob's life. Each one has a message of encouragement for you in your ministry, as you witness that struggle and pain are all part of Wrestling for Your God Given Name. Wrestling for Your God Given Name is a project that we hope will be a resource of encouragement for Pastors. Inspired by the Old Testament character Jacob, the writers of this project are creating specific content that will relate to those that are serving in ministry. They are combining the historical aspect of Jacobs's story with what we can learn from the journey he endured along the way. Just as Jacob had his ups and downs in life, we too have struggles that we must endure in our Journeys with God. Each of us has a God-given name that God has set aside for us, for Jacob it was Israel. For Saul of Tarsus, it was Paul the Apostle. For Simon the fisherman, it was Peter the Rock. The question remains how do we find that name. This work is meant as a love letter to those in ministry. Though it will question your position, question your motive, and even possibly discourage you, in the beginning, let me assure you that every word is written with encouragement being our primary aim. I believe encouragement comes in many forms, some make us smile, some make us cry, but all are instruments God uses to mold us to reflect the beautiful image of His Son further. In this little book, we hope to give you some answers. So Join us as we seek out our God-given names and together who knows what we may find.

  • ISBN: 9781370564484
  • Author: M. J. Elliott
  • Published: 2017-06-05 01:05:28
  • Words: 17991
Wrestling for Your God Given Name Wrestling for Your God Given Name