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?
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14
When you think about prayer; have you ever stopped to consider all the prayers of the Bible that God is still answering? Maybe it would help to think about them somewhat like going out to eat or stopping at the grocery store to buy milk and eggs. The first thing that happens whenever we start out in the car is that my wife begins rummaging through her purse for coupons. Somehow, whether we are going to Olive Garden, Pizza Hut or Walmart she finds one that we can use, then she looks to see if the date is still valid. Prayers in the Bible are somewhat like those coupons. We only get to take advantage of them if we ask to redeem them and the good news for us is that there is no expiration date!
This morning as I was reading Paul’s prayer of blessing for the Corinthian church I stopped and went back over the words realizing that in my own life I desperately need the grace, love and fellowship that Paul asked for. These blessings are much more than just words on a page or the sound waves generated by our pastor as he prays them over us at the end of a Sunday service. This 2,000 year old prayer is a valid coupon, redeemable in our prayer closet to whoever presents it by faith to God.
God still wants you and I to experience the Grace of Jesus Christ every day. The love of God is more than a gift given long ago; it is valid and waiting for us to experience it this morning. And just as they say on television; “But wait there’s more!” remember that in these days of stress, fear and change; the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit is a gift that God longs to put into our hearts if we will only ask.
So why not put aside a moment right now as you are reading and ask God for:
Grace for every weakness, sin and sorrow
Love for all people you will meet in every place and hour
Fellowship In every conflict, disappointment or disaster
These are God’s precious promises; still active in the words of this ancient prayer. They never die but they wait on our faith to remember and believe!
The Lord bless you and keep you;the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26 NIV
About a year and a half ago my wife and I retired and moved to Florida. Moving meant getting used to a new neighborhood, finding new doctors and most importantly of all finding a new place to call our church home. Moving from a small Brazilian church to an American mega-church was in many ways great. It was awesome praising God together with so many people and it is a joy witnessing new baptisms monthly. But the end of our Sunday services always felt like an important something was left out. This week I realized that what I was missing was the blessing from the book of Numbers that our pastor had always prayed. I was suddenly so sorry for just taking his blessing for granted. (I sent a message to him yesterday thanking him).
One of the really neat cultural things we learned from our Brazilian church was the concept of blessing. Not only in church was blessing a big deal, but even in the home. In the older generation after families got together for a visit (always with lots of food!) the children could not leave with asking the older relatives for bênçãos (blessings). “Bencoes tio (Uncle), Bencoes pa-pai(Daddy) or bencoes vo-vo (Grampa)” they would ask as they took the hands of the older relatives. Did you ever stop to realize how many of the blessings that God gives us that we take for granted? Maybe even just as importantly have we considered how important it is for us to use every opportunity that we have to bless others.
The blessing our pastor always prayed was the one that God commanded Aaron the High Priest to bless the people of Israel with. I’m not sure if this is an illustration of God’s grace or His sense of humor. After all God was asking the same man who had made the golden calf while Moses was up on the mountain to bless His people! So don’t think that because you have messed up with your family, friends or church that God cannot also entrust you with a blessing to give. One part of God’s healing process in our lives is to find ourselves at a place where we can impart blessings to others. So this coming Sunday when you leave church whether on-line or in person, don’t think lightly of the blessing given to you and remember to take advantage of the chance to bless others. Have a blessed week everyone!
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