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Genesis 31

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

MONDAY, AUGUST 28

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 31

This is a rather long chapter that advances the narrative of Jacob.  While we could walk through the story, there is something that happens at the beginning of the chapter that I think may be helpful to talk about.  It has to do with how do we know when God is speaking?

I don’t know about you but sometimes it is difficult for me to discern between my voice in my head and God’s voice in my spirit.  As a result, it is difficult to decide whether I am trying to convince myself of something or whether God is convicting me of something.  So, is it possible to know when God is speaking?

For Jacob it began with God putting a desire in his heart.  This took place in Genesis 30:25 when God began to talk with Jacob about going back home.  Jeremiah 17:9 provides a good caution that not every longing in the human heart is from God.  But the Lord often begins to reveal His will to us by speaking into our hearts.

So, how do we know if the desire in our hearts is from us or from God?  God often uses circumstances to convince us of His desire for our lives.  As Genesis 31 opens, Jacob is struggling with the fact that his father-in-law wasn’t as friendly toward him as he once was.  In fact, it appears Laban was openly antagonistic toward Jacob.  We should never trust circumstances by themselves.  But God often uses circumstances to get our attention and prepare us to move forward.

So, how do we know if the change in our circumstances is something God is doing or Satan is doing or, for that matter, something we are doing to justify what we want to do?  That brings us to the third and most important way speaks and that is through His Word.

This is such a simple principle but it is a critical piece.  When you are trying to discern the source of that voice in your head/spirit, see how what that voice is saying lines up with God’s Word.  God is never going to contradict His Word.  If He is speaking into you, it will be in agreement with what He has said in His Word.

By the same token, any God-given desire will also line up with God’s Word.  He is not going to give you a desire to do something that contradicts Scripture. 

In this story, (see verse 3), God speaks to Jacob and clearly tells Him to go back home.  Now I know most of us would love to hear God’s voice.  We would love to receive instruction by His audible voice.  But, more often than not, today God speaks through His written Word.  The key to knowing whether it is God is speaking or not is to be immersed in His Word: to be so familiar with what He has already said and how He has said it, you will know when He says something else.  And you will know when it is not Him speaking.

I have been told that is how bank tellers are taught to recognize counterfeit money.  They are not given counterfeit money to study or learn from.  Instead they are given real money and get so accustomed to what it looks like, how it feels, etc. they can almost immediately recognize the counterfeit.  We should be so familiar with God’s word that we can immediately recognize the counterfeit.

There is one last thing that happens in this story that is important.  After Jacob heard from God, he went to talk to Rachel and Leah about it.  That may just be a smart husband. But it may be a pattern for us to consider.  It is always important to seek counsel from others as we are trying to discern the direction of the Lord.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Genesis 30

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

FRIDAY, AUGUST 25

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 3O

Let’s just be honest.  Sometimes when you are reading the Bible, you come across stories that just make you shake your head.  Sometimes those stories are so violent we don’t know how to respond.  Sometimes those stories are of people doing such dumb stuff we don’t know how they lived as long as they did.  Sometimes those stories are of people doing such immoral stuff we are repulsed by what we read.  And sometime those stories are of people doing things that just make us shake our head in bewilderment and disbelief.

The question of course is why did God see to it that those kinds of stories would be in the Bible.  Obviously the Bible is about God and Jesus and the Gospel.  But the Bible is about people too.  And people do really dumb, really bad, really weird things.  So, the inclusion of such stories gives us some notion that those folks were real people that we often identify with.  Another reason such stories are put in the Bible has to be they show us the undeniable trail of grace and mercy from God to some of what must be the most undeserving folks around.  

If you have read Genesis 30, you probably found yourself shaking your head.  It really reads like a sordid soap opera.  In fact, if the story were not in the Bible most of us would think that it must have been made up and couldn’t have actually happened.  But happen it did.

We have man, Jacob, who will be one of the great Old Testament patriarchs.  He will actually become the physical father of the nation of Israel.  He had two wives. (By the way, God never told him to do that.)  One he loves.  The other not so much.  But he had babies with the one he doesn’t love so much.  The one he loves brought her servant to Jacob and told him to make babies with the servant. (Remember Abraham and Sarah and Hagar?  We humans have a hard time learning our lessons.)  Then the one he doesn’t love so much brought her servant to Jacob and told him to make babies with her.  Then the one he loves started having babies.  Then Reuben, Leah’s oldest child, is seen bringing some mandrakes to his mom.  (At the time mandrakes were considered to be a powerful aphrodisiac.)  Rachel made a deal with Leah trading a night with Jacob for those mandrakes.  And more babies are born.

At some point, somebody needs to call time out, send everybody to their respective benches, and restart the game.  Sadly no one does that.

From there the story shifts back to Laban and Jacob.  Laban, the consummate schemer and deceiver, made a deal for Jacob to stay 6 more years and work for him.  For his trouble, Jacob would receive all the spotted, striped, and black sheep and goats.  Those would have been seen as less valuable as the white ones.  Jacob devised this plan to get more of the spotted, striped, and black sheep.  As odd as it sounds, it worked.  

It worked for two reasons.  One, God was involved.  He had promised to bless Jacob and He was fulfilling His promise.  Two, there is a Biblical principle involved.  That principle is we tend to become like what we are focusing on.  We tend to start looking like what we are looking at.

That can be a very negative thing if we are focusing on stuff we shouldn’t.  It can also be a very positive thing if we are focusing on stuff we should.  The moral of the story: keep your focus on the right things.  

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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