Afterward his brother came out [of Rebekah’s womb], and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob.
In ancient times, names often were connected to a child’s destiny. In the case of Jesus, it was a positive connection (Matthew 1:21); in the case of Jesus’ ancestor, Jacob, the connection was negative. The Hebrew word yaaqob (Jacob) meant “to follow at the heel”—a reference to Jacob’s tight grasp on his twin brother Esau’s heel at their birth. “Follow at the heel” became a negative reference to someone who follows closely behind another, someone always looking for an advantage, a way to overtake and replace another’s position.
And that was Jacob for the first part of his life. Jacob’s first recorded act as a young man was to cheat his brother, Esau, out of Esau’s birthright as the firstborn son (Genesis 25:29-34). Then Jacob’s devious mother, Rebekah, showed Jacob how to trick his father Isaac into giving him the blessing of the firstborn. Jacob stayed on a self-serving path until God’s discipline brought him to account.
Temptations to replace the will of God with one’s own should be resisted immediately. God’s will will be done, even if it results in painful lessons.
No wickedness on earth is more common than the various forms of deceit. William S. Plumer
Genesis 25:19-34 – The Birth of Esau and Jacob
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done. Proverbs 19:17
My son Geoff recently participated in a “homeless simulation.” He spent three days and two nights living on the streets of his city, sleeping outside in below freezing temperatures. Without food, money, or shelter, he relied on the kindness of strangers for his basic needs. On one of those days his only food was a sandwich, bought by a man who heard him asking for stale bread at a fast-food restaurant.
Geoff told me later it was one of the hardest things he’d ever done, yet it profoundly impacted his outlook on others. He spent the day after his “simulation” seeking out homeless people who had been kind to him during his time on the street, doing what he could to assist them in simple ways. They were surprised to discover he wasn’t actually homeless and were grateful he cared enough to try to see life through their eyes.
My son’s experience calls to mind Jesus’s words: “I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. . . . Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:36, 40). Whether we give a word of encouragement or a bag of groceries, God calls us to lovingly attend to the needs of others. Our kindness to others is kindness to Him.
Reflect & Pray
What little kindness can you extend to another? When have you been the recipient of another’s kindness?
Dear Jesus, help me to see You in the needs of others today and to love You by loving them.
How can we conquer discouragement? Let me suggest nine specific tips:
1. Look within. Examine yourself for the underlying cause.
2. Admit that you are discouraged. This is something that’s easy to avoid, ignore, or lie about, but denial doesn’t help you grow.
3. Identify precisely what you are discouraged about. Name it—then face it.
4. Recall the nature of discouragement. Disappointments will come and go, but discouragement is a response, and we can respond in other ways.
5. Begin meditating frequently on Scripture. God’s truth can help you accurately evaluate what you feel.
6. Take your area of discouragement to God in prayer. Ask Him to reveal what He wants to teach you in this area of your life.
7. Focus on the Lord, not your situation. Ask Him to help you see this disappointment and its lessons from His perspective.
8. View the cause as coming from the Lord. If we understand that He allows disappointments, we can find meaning in trouble.
9. Confess three things: The Father is with me in the pain; He’s in control of my life and has allowed this for a reason; He is a good God, who will not let this disappointment be in vain. Try speaking these truths out loud.
Discouragement may sound harmless enough, but don’t underestimate its power. By keeping watch, you can avoid its deadly trap. So write down these nine steps on an index card, and then review the list whenever disappointments start to consume your thinking.
“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Galatians 5:24)
Death by crucifixion was surely one of the cruelest and most painful forms of execution ever devised. Yet, the Lord Jesus “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2); He “hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).
But just as He sacrificed Himself for us, we are now privileged to offer our “bodies a living sacrifice” to Him (Romans 12:1). This spiritual sacrifice is actually compared to crucifixion. “Our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Romans 6:6).
Crucifixion is not an instantaneous death but a very slow and painful death. Just so, the death of a Christian believer to sin does not take place in a moment of special blessing but—as in physical crucifixion—is painful and slow. Nevertheless, it is basic in the truly effective Christian life.
In the book of Galatians, we are told three times by the apostle Paul that the Christian believer should be following Christ in His crucifixion—in crucifixion to self, to the flesh, and to the world. First we are to be crucified to the love of self. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Secondly, we are to be crucified to the flesh, for “they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (today’s text).
Finally, we should be crucified to the lure of this world. “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14). HMM
Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and me majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.
—1 Chronicles 29:11
Christianity today is man-centered, not God-centered. God is made to wait patiently, even respectfully, on the whims of men. The image of God currently popular is that of a distracted Father, struggling in heartbroken desperation to get people to accept a Savior of whom they feel no need and in whom they have very little interest. To persuade these self-sufficient souls to respond to His generous offers God will do almost anything, even using salesmanship methods and talking down to them in the chummiest way imaginable. This view of things is, of course, a kind of religious romanticism which, while it often uses flattering and sometimes embarrassing terms in praise of God, manages nevertheless to make man the star of the show. MDP027
Lord, take me to my knees in worship. Then let me go to share You, our great and majestic God Who deserves our worship. Amen.
I will delight myself in Thy statutes: I will not forget Thy word.—Psalm 119:16.
Which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word.—Luke 10:39.
Lo! at Thy feet I wait Thy will,
Let that alone my being fill,
All earthly passions calm and still.
WhatEver happens let us not be too busy to sit at Jesus’ feet. We shall not really lose time by enjoying this nay, we shall redeem the time; for there is usually much more time and strength forfeited by friction than by toil, and we shall gain in blessedness and enjoyment of our work, and gain in the quality of our work; and, above all, we shall gain in that we shall give Him pleasure where otherwise we might only grieve Him. And this is indeed the crown of all our endeavors. He who pleases Him does not live in vain.
Wm. Hay M.H. Aitken.
A low standard of prayer means a low standard of character and a low standard of service. Those alone labor effectively among men who impetuously fling themselves upward towards God.
Charles H. Brent.
“It shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” Isa. 65:24
Quick work this! The Lord hears us before we call; and often answers us in the same speedy manner. Foreseeing our needs, and our prayers, He so arranges providence that before the need actually arises He has supplied it, before the trial assails us He has armed us against it. This is the promptitude of omniscience, and we have often seen it exercised. Before we dreamed of the affliction which was coming, the strong consolation which was to sustain us under it had arrived. What a prayer-answering God we have!
The second clause suggests the telephone. Though God be in Heaven and we upon earth, yet He makes our word, like His own word, to travel very swiftly. When we pray aright we speak into the ear of God. Our gracious Mediator presents our petitions at once, and the great Father hears them and smiles upon them. Grand praying this! Who would not be much in prayer when he knows that he has the ear of the King of kings? This day I will pray in faith, not only believing that I shall be heard, but that I am heard; not only that I shall be answered, but that I have the answer already. Holy Spirit, help me in this!