Whose Face Do You Dread Seeing?


Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.” But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.”         Jacob said, “I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me. Genesis 33:8-10

         The last time Jacob saw Esau, he feared his murderous rage. He threatened to kill Jacob for stealing his inheritance. Now, years later, it is clear that Esau moved on and relinquished his need for revenge. He accumulated a degree of wealth and saw prosperity as God’s favor. Only a shalom with God could prompt him to say, “I have enough favor. Keep what you have, my brother.” This moved Jacob so deeply that he called Esau’s face – the face of God.

         This wasn’t just poetry. The night before this meeting, Jacob had actually seen the face of God in his all-night wrestling match. When it had ended, Jacob named the place ‘Peniel’ which means ‘I saw God’s face and lived.’ What did Jacob wrestle with God about? Considering the timing, it was probably over Esau. Jacob was afraid of his brother, suffered from regret and shame, and needed peace in his soul. Before he could find peace with Esau, he needed peace with God.

         From whom are you estranged today? When it’s someone in the family, the fracture wears on you and takes years off your life. Continue reading

Showing Off Your Stuff


And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” GENESIS 33:5

         How humble Jacob was as he introduced his family to Esau. The unspoken message was this ~ “God has been very gracious to me even though I sinned greatly against you.” You might ask, “How could he feel differently? Look at what he did!” True. But entitled people overlook their own sin and expect to be blessed anyway. Many years earlier, Jacob had felt entitled to Esau’s blessing so it would have been natural for him to have an attitude when introducing his family.

         Humility is becoming. How do I view everything I enjoy today? Just because I’ve always had it doesn’t mean I always will. God does not owe me. Every good thing comes from above from a gracious God who gives me, not what I deserve, but what I don’t deserve. Every breath is a gift. My salvation is a gift. Momentary grace to live in the difficulties of these times is a gift.

         Spiritual arrogance is unbecoming. Perhaps you’ve witnessed it in others. They talk about themselves and their family incessantly. They brag on each member and are quick to tell you everything they did right in raising them. Continue reading

I Am Not Small Eough!


Who has known the mind of the Lord, and who has been His counselor?  Romans 11:34

            “I am the Lord and there is none other,” God would tell His children repeatedly.  Why?  Because they were not small enough.  Their disobedience and worship of other gods exposed their arrogance.  They had decided who was worthy of their worship, whom they would honor and obey.  The God of the universe got the short end of the stick.  Oh, how man elevates himself and how absolutely ludicrous.

William Beebe was a biologist, explorer, and author, and he was also a personal friend of Theodore Roosevelt. He used to visit Roosevelt at Sagamore Hill, his home near Oyster Bay, Long Island.  He tells of a little game they used to play together. After an evening of talk, they would go outside onto the lawn and search the sky until they found the faint spot of light beyond the lower left corner of the great square of Pegasus. One of them would recite: “That is the Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda. It is as large as the Milky Way. It is one of a hundred million galaxies. It consists of one hundred billion suns, each larger than our sun.”  Then Roosevelt would grin at Beebe and say, “Now I think we are small enough! Let’s go to bed.”

If there is an issue about which I’ve decided not to obey, I am not small enough.  If I tell God He is shortsighted, I am not small enough.  If I tell God that He doesn’t rule well and life will never be fair, I am not small enough.  Continue reading

Making God Prove His Own Goodness


Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” John 6:60,64-69

         When I was spiritually shortsighted, and it was easy because I was in great distress, God looked guilty when I considered my present circumstances. No matter which way I looked at things, I felt that He failed to love me the way He should if He were really a good Father. Angry and hurt, I made some very bad spiritual decisions. Here’s what I would say to do if you and God are not intimate right now.

  1. Go toward him, not away from him. The very one you’re angry with is usually the last one you want to run to for help. And yet, God invites all of us to pour out our complaint. If you don’t have God, who will you run to for help?
  2. Verbalize your issues. When things swirl in your head, there is not clear thinking and the cobwebs only multiply. Talk to God. Write out what you’re thinking and feeling. Spell out the conclusions you’ve made about him. Repent for name-calling.
  3. Ask God to take you to the right scriptures and then open your heart to them. He is the God who promises to write His Word on our hearts.
  4. Look for a temporary mediator with skin on. Verbalize your issues for the 2nd time to a seasoned Christian who has survived crushing times. They have, most likely, felt the same things you’re dealing with and yet God has gotten them to the other side with their faith in tact. They will offer perspective that is life saving and valuable.

Continue reading

Over What Am I Upset?


He [Jacob] himself went on before them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. Genesis 33:3

         When I’ve wronged someone, I can have many reactions. Picking one, I can obsess over the wrong thing. Am I upset about what I did? Am I upset because the other person is angry? Am I upset because the consequences seem out of line with the offense? Continue reading

I Had My Last Bad Day


Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.  I Peter 1:8

         The quote, “You just had your last bad day!” is still getting a lot of attention. You remember it from a previous devotional?  I told the story of Mollie, our newly adopted golden retriever.  I shared how we rescued her from a shelter not long ago.  Just after Ron and I picked her up, I caressed her face and whispered to her, “You just had your last bad day!”

First Meeting with Mollie

         This morning I woke up thinking about why this is touching so many.  I believe it’s because it is a fairy tale story.  Each one of us longs to experience what it’s like to be the object of such a beautiful rescue effort.  Continue reading

Holding On – Refusing To Be Faithless


Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”   Genesis 32:26

         I know the verse, The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16   I learned it as a kid but learning the words and understand the meaning can be many decades removed. Jacob wrestled with God until he prevailed. Though his hip gave out, the pivotal source of power for a wrestler, he did not quit. Pain and fatigue did not deter him from the goal. The blessing was of such value to him that nothing killed the desire.

         There are situations that can appear absolutely hopeless. Evidence wants to prove that nothing changes because of faith. Things get worse. The pain of watching everything regress nearly shuts me down. The fatigue that accompanies long-term stress wears on me and causes me to look ten years older than I am. Faithlessness beckons to me like an old friend and promises me rest. The thought of my heart sliding into hopeless oblivion is attractive. I just want the striving to cease. Continue reading