What Is Your Name?

Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.”  Genesis 32:26-27 ESV

All Jacob’s life he had struggled for blessings. Jacob had tricked Esau, his older brother into selling him the right of the first born (Quite a significant financial advantage in his day). Later when their father had decided to give Esau the family blessing, Jacob ran in ahead of Esau and fooled his blind father into giving him that blessing instead. When news of Jacob’s deceit got to Esau there was murder in his heart and Jacob fled to his mother’s family. So, instead of getting his father’s blessings he spent 20 years working for his uncle Laban. In today’s verse, Jacob was finally and totally alone in his struggle with God’s angel.

By this time, he was entirely out of strength and yet he hung on to his attacker, refusing to let him go. Jacob had gotten so much along the way. He was rich; he had married the girl of his dreams and had many sons and daughters. Jacob had all these accomplishments, but he feared his brother Esau. He had so much stuff and yet so little of God’s blessing of peace. As Jacob continued to struggle the angel finally agrees to bless him, but not as Jacob had imagined. Instead of giving him more things, the angel changed Jacob’s name.

 “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”  Genesis 32:28 

What a strange victory God had planned for Jacob, and He has that same strange and yet wonderful victory available for you and me. Whenever we truly meet with God, we come away with a new name, a new future and a new hope. When we choose a name, that name can be changed. But when God chooses our name, it sticks forever. The name God offers to give us is our greatest blessing, because it is written down in Heaven. It is the name that Jesus calls us when we find him by faith and refuse to let go! What is your name?

Photo by Heiner on Pexels.com

Did He Really Say That?!

I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Luke 12:4-5 ESV

Today’s verse introduces a summer feature which I will call “Did Jesus Really Say That?!”. “But why Pastor Pete?” some of you will probably ask. “Why bring up those kinds of verses? Why not focus on the sweet and positive things that Jesus said?” Well, I guess the first answer is, “Jesus is way smarter than you or I.” If He tells us something, then in spite of how it sounds, He still has something good in mind. Take today’s verse, for instance. Jesus starts out by telling me not to be afraid of those who want to kill me. Now, in general, this does not calm my heart. Instead, I begin glancing over my shoulder, wondering who is planning what to do me in. But if we would scratch a little deeper beneath the surface, we would see that Jesus is teaching us to swim in a spiritual sense. Of course, it feels like He just tossed me into the deep end of the pool and said, “Go for it!”. But in reality, He is bringing a warning to our attention that far outweighs anything that an enemy could do to us. The life that Jesus wants us to focus on is beyond the horizon of this world. If He were to fail to tell us about God’s judgement, as to how we have lived our lives, He wouldn’t be doing us any favors.

Lately there has been a lot written about how the Chinese Communist Party is learning all our private information, in preparation for some future day. On my part I am not so sure that all the data which Google, Facebook and the American Government has on us is a whole lot better! But instead of worrying about what people would do to us, Jesus is telling us to chill. Don’t worry. Stop fussing about what other people can do. If you think the Tik-Tok folks know a lot, imagine God, who counts every hair on our head and knows every word, before we speak it.

"Bless those who curse you, think what they would say if they knew the truth." Mother Teresa

And yet, our God who knows everything about us, cared enough to send Jesus into our world to save us. Yes, there are difficult things He would have to say to us, just as when a mother screams at her child to get out of the road when she sees a car bearing down on us from behind. Jesus wants us to be aware, awake and focusing our fear where it will do us good. Only then are we ready for what He has to say next!

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.  Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. 
Luke 12:6-7 ES

3 Blessings of a Newsletter

Walking With Lambs

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” Isaiah 52:7 ESV

Any of us who has been involved in nursing home ministry over the last three years, has lived through some heartbreaking events and faced challenges that we never imagined before. This has often left us scrambling to find new ways to continue to reach people who are in those closed facilities. Just as a carpenter carries more than one tool in his toolbox, so we need all kinds of different ways to present the gospel. One tool which God just “happened” to put on my heart not long before the pandemic, is a newsletter. Beginning as “Pastor Pete’s Newsletter” I passed these out at one facility as a little something extra. When Covid closed the doors to all…

View original post 534 more words