Resenting Those Who Are Blessed

RESENTING THOSE WHO ARE BLESSED

Laban said, “Good! Let it be as you have said.” [But] he set a three days’ journey between himself and Jacob and Jacob pastured the rest of Laban’s flock. Genesis 30:34,36

         Laban’s view of Jacob was very limited. He did not know the struggles of the first three decades of Jacob’s life. All he saw was the blessing of God on Jacob those seven years. Everything Jacob touched prospered. So when Jacob offered to take the least amount of the flocks (the striped, spotted, and black), and only count those and their offspring as his, it sounded like a great deal to Laban but misgivings set in. Though Laban clearly had the advantage on paper, he had seen God’s blessing on Jacob firsthand. He knew that, somehow, Jacob would prosper. Scheming ensued to make sure Jacob would be the disadvantaged in the deal.

I can look at the life of someone God blesses and witness firsthand how God takes whatever little they have in their hands to continually produce abundance. I can privately hate them for it. I find little ways to steal from them, even if it’s their reputation. I delight in finding flaws in their character, in their family, and relish telling others that they’re not so perfect. Such is the bent of my flesh without God.

Laban’s issue was with God, not with Jacob. If he felt forgotten and second-rate, this was not Jacob’s doing. Since Laban didn’t even acknowledge Yahweh, he had no way to cope spiritually except to take matters in his own hands.

This past Sunday, I was visiting a church where there had been a divine healing of a young man’s cancer. After praying, the tumor was just gone. The congregation was invited to praise out loud. Next to me was a dear friend who has survived brain, and breast, cancer. Healing prayers were prayed for her too but God did not do for her exactly what he did for this young man. Though she clapped and celebrated his good news, I wondered if there was a brief struggle in her soul though she is in remission.

If you are in painful times today and your trust in God is shaken by another’s blessing, press through your anger to seek God. “Man is born unto trouble…” and looking at others lives through momentary lenses is dangerous. Good and bad times are allotted to us all.

Help my unbelief. I have often despaired that your ‘plans for others were good’ — but I was excluded. Time proved otherwise but help me trust you when I can NOT see. Amen

Journal Question: Do you envy another’s story? What must you do to be right with God? What beliefs are simmering in your anger?

Go Home!

“GO HOME!”

For you had little before I came, and it has increased abundantly, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I turned. But now when shall I provide for my own household also?” Genesis 30:30

         When you have a gift that greatly benefits others, it will be in high demand. It can feel as if the gift is both a blessing and a curse. It’s hard to tell who your real friends are. You’re popular, yes, but is it because of your gift or because of the person you are?

         Jacob had God’s blessing. Everything he touched of Laban’s prospered. It is no surprise that the gift Jacob gave of seven years of labor turned into a kind of slavery. Laban had no intention of letting Jacob go. At this point though, it was time to think about his own family’s provision. Their future was at stake.

         In the generation before me, this was the philosophy of ministry: Give everything to ministry and God will take care of your family. As a teenager, I got to personally witness ministry families. Fathers would take off for weeks, sometime for months. Mothers raised the children. To this day, I see fallout from children who lived in a fatherless environment.

         It is easy to give your gift where it is appreciated. Ministry can be an aphrodisiac and all the while, family suffers. Is today the day when you should go home? You simply can’t ignore the needs at home any longer. It won’t be easy to put your family first. Initially, their anger will be center stage over your absence. Persevere. Humbly ask for forgiveness and prove, with time, that you are sincere.

         I’ve been in ministry 38 years. For many of them, I’ve sung to packed auditoriums and known night after night of standing ovations. It was addicting but also necessary to turn down great invitations in exchange for being a wife and mother. Believe me, I haven’t always gotten it right. One night in Canada some years ago, God brought a woman to me who offered this prophetic word. “Go home and cultivate faithfulness.” The spirit of conviction burned through my soul. I made some course corrections.          Putting others before myself is always hard. I can resent them for needing me. What is the remedy?Letting God show me His will for my life and knowing that this is the way of blessing and peace. Ultimately, everything I do is for the glory of God and that often means saying no to the church and yes to a spouse or child.

Families are falling apart. The window of time to repair it is short. Show all of us who read this today how it applies. Amen

Journal Question: What would it mean for you to stand in Jacob’s place today and tell your ‘Laban’ that it’s time for you to take care of family?

Don’t Go!

DON’T GO!

 As soon as Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own home and country. But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your sight, I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you. Name your wages, and I will give it.” Genesis 30:25,27-28

         God’s blessing over a group of people often comes with a person. A righteous mother or father brings God’s favor upon their household. Remove that person however, and things change. The glory of God leaves. Whatever spiritual veneer was there is removed and the true spirituality of the people who are left is revealed. God’s servant kept a lid on things by their very presence.

         Laban knew that God had blessed his family when Jacob arrived. The thought of Jacob leaving must have sent panic through Laban’s heart. What about the prosperity he enjoyed? Would it end? In most cases, it does.

         My mother died when I was thirty. She had always been a quiet strength in our home. She was also a presence of restraint. We loved her so deeply that we sat on inappropriate comments and angry outbursts. Her death, however, changed everything. The cancer of family dysfunction surfaced after she was gone. What was hidden by her very presence was revealed slowly over time. It became clear to me why God took her home.

         Have you heard people express their angst with God over why He appears to take the good people home and leaves the unrighteous to affect the earth? Perhaps you’ve said goodbye to a saint in your family. You believe they died before their time. Everything seemed to fall apart without them.

         As it should! God gives each person, and each family, a window of time to deal with their issues. Insight and understanding are theirs for a short time only. This is their chance to humbly deal with their sin, their past hurts, and draw near to God for forgiveness and change. If a person chooses spiritual blindness and rebellion, God often closes the door of opportunity and gives them over to a hardened heart in the area of their weaknesses. I’ve seen it over and over. Even in Christians.

         If someone with God’s favor is about to leave your home, don’t despair. God is about to bring light and opportunity to whomever is left. Spiritual needs will be exposed.

         If you are the righteous one about to leave people you care about; family, business, church, etc…. know that God will use your absence for their good. Pray for them. You’ve been a light but now it’s time to see if they will seek the Light without you.

Bring Your Spirit of revival to those without You today. Help them remember their legacy and repent. Amen

Journal Question: Can you recognize what God is doing in your family and in your life? If you gained insight from today’s devotional, write out what God has shown you while it’s fresh manna.

Living With Disgrace

LIVING WITH DISGRACE

Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. She conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” Genesis 30:22-23

         To be barren in Rachel’s culture was to live as one scorned. Barrenness was believed to be a curse and you were an embarrassment to your husband. This time of disgrace wasn’t a short season for Rachel. While she languished under her veil of shame, Leah, Jacob’s other wife, bore him six children. At one point Rachel turned to an aphrodisiac to boost fertility but that proved ineffective.

         Why do seasons of shame and disgrace often span a decade or two? They don’t usually last a year. God appears to be out of the picture completely –ignoring the oppressed. While none of us can know the full mind of God, the stories of those like Rachel, Sarah, Hannah, and Elizabeth give great clues as to God’s purposes. When a wilderness marks a large portion of someone’s life, is God in the process of redemption? The answer is always yes. Redemption of ‘what’ can only be discerned by the one oppressed.

         For Rachel, I believe it was for her to know that God was her miracle worker, her provider. Had she easily born Jacob children, she wouldn’t have given a second thought to things like faith and prayer. When she finally did give birth to Joseph, she credited the Lord, not the power of the mandrakes.

         I have known seasons of affliction. None of them were short. All taught me perseverance, the power of prayer, and the nature of the wilderness. While great spiritual things prevailed at the end, the beginnings and middle of these seasons were pretty ugly. I had no clue how to navigate the years.

         You may be living in an atmosphere of disgrace. Perhaps you are not the child your parents wanted and you are still shamed even though your parents are aged. Maybe you are the not the wife, or husband, your spouse really thinks you should be. Criticism is your daily companion. How do you survive the barrage of corrections and insults? God wants to change the heart of your scorner, and he does if they’re willing. Many, however, live and die without knowing how to love. Hear this! Your survival doesn’t depend on them. It depends on God at work in your own heart.

         Unless you cultivate a relationship with God that involves experience beyond Bible study, you will not be able to weather it well. You must know how to draw near to God in prayer, how to meditate to restore peace to your churning soul, and how to make Jesus your daily bread and living water. Living in the shelter of His wings so that His whispers are palpable is the only security against the barrage of comments coming from the other side of the room. God is your Lover and Sustainer.

I lift each person reading this up to You as a small child. Break through the fog of pain to bathe them in Your presence. Amen

Journal Question: The years can drag on and on when life is defined by disgrace. Can you entertain the thought that God wants to do something stunning in the midst of dark times? Tell him that you need His personal encouragement today. Be specific.

How Desperate Am I?

HOW DESPERATE AM I?

In the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” But she said to her, “Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?” Genesis 30:14

         Is there someone near you who has everything you want? You’ve kept your distance because being near them is painful. Now, in what seems like a cruel joke, they have been blessed yet again with something that would be lifesaving to you but it’s in their hands, not yours. You consider swallowing your pride to beg.

         This is the story of Leah and Rachel. Leah has borne Jacob many sons. Rachel has none and this is agonizing for her. To add fuel to the fire, Leah’s son comes in from the field with mandrakes – a plant believed to have properties that cure barrenness. Rachel is willing to do anything at this point to have children – even if it means asking Leah for her son’s mandrakes.

         When I believe that my fate lies outside of God’s providence, I will set out to turn things in my favor. I will even assume any false posture of friendship to win over my enemy, the one whom I believe is the key to moving forward. This is where manipulation is born. If I ask him outright for what he has, he’ll laugh in my face. If I pretend to be his friend and come bearing compliments, he may succumb to flattery.

         Are you in a desperate place today because someone who has little heart for you possesses the very thing you need? Battling envy is hard enough but to think that I must be clever enough deceive him seems like climbing Mt. Everest. If I’m Rachel, what do I do?

         It is not up to my ingenuity to secure my future. The timing of my blessing and the length of my wilderness are in God’s hands. He has not forgotten me. Blessing is mine though it may appear non-existent.   When another has what I think I need, I must remember that God has what I need. When He gives it, there will be true celebration of His glory. When I force someone else to give it by prying his hands open, the party is hollow.

Every single thing I need, You have. If I don’t have it yet, I must deal with my desperation in prayer. If I distrust You, help me and give me grace to stay true. Amen

Journal Question: What plot have you conceived to carry out today that will turn things in your favor? Do you love God enough to abandon it? Will you cast all your cares on God and wait for His answer?