A Perfectly Imperfect Example

In my quiet times recently, I’ve studied Jacob/Israel more deeply than ever before. To me he is a fascinating paradox: an often faithless patriarch of the faith.

I can imagine things weren’t easy for him in his early years, knowing that his father so obviously favored his brother, Esau (Genesis 25:28). Yet it seems he forgot the lessons he learned in that experience and went on to favor his own son, Joseph, above all his other sons (Genesis 37:3). And, of course, we know that Joseph is the one who paid for that favoritism (Genesis 37). Imperfect.

Jacob was forced to flee his home after he deceived his father (with the help of his mother) and stole Esau’s blessing (Genesis 27), yet he literally met God while he was on the run to his uncle’s home (Genesis 28). God spoke to him, blessed him, promised him that his descendants would outnumber the specks of dust on the earth and that the land would belong to Jacob and his descendants forever (Genesis 28:13-15). And what did Jacob do? He acted like a typical human and put conditions on God: IF God would protect and provide for him until he returned to his father’s house, THEN Jacob would consider the Lord his God (Genesis 28:20-21). Imperfect.

Even if we skip his time at his Uncle Laban’s home and all the ways that God provided for him in his twenty years there, we still find Jacob depending more on himself than on God. When he left Laban and wass told that his brother, Esau, was coming to meet him, Jacob again behaved like most people: crying out to God for help, but still thinking up ways he could get himself out of danger. One moment he was praying for God’s help and the next he was scheming up tricks to pacify the anger he assumed was driving Esau toward him (Genesis 32). As Warren Wiersbe put it, “[Jacob] prayed to be delivered from Esau, but he really needed to be delivered from himself.” Imperfect.

Even though Jacob, now Israel, had learned so much about God, had seen God, struggled with God, he still depended on his own means (bribery, lies, etc.), because he spent so much time dwelling on his past transgressions, instead of looking ahead in faith. He was far from a perfect example of faith, yet God used him to teach us at least one very valuable lesson:

When we meet God, when we give our lives to Christ, our sins are washed in His blood, tossed to the ocean floor, never to be brought up again. If you find yourself dwelling on the sins of your past, know that it is not God who is bringing them to your mind. It is the Deceiver, who wants to take your mind off of God. When we dwell in the past, we forget to trust God with our present and our future. Look ahead instead, to all God has waiting for His good and faithful servants.

Must we be perfect? I know God would like us to be, but we are human and odds are we will mess up. We should strive for perfection, but maybe we can find contentment in imperfect perfection, always leaning on God, having faith that He is in control and that He cares for us.

Plan to Succeed

For the past few years I have been ever so slightly ambitious & have begun my year by setting up a calendar/planner/Bible journal. This year I added a Bible reading schedule to my calendar, with the grand plan of reading the Bible chronologically in just one year. I spent several days putting my calendar together, plotting out which chapters I would read each day, and how often I would journal the Word.

Well, here it is, not even the end of January, and I’m already behind on my schedule! When I looked at my grand plan the other day I was not-so-subtly reminded of the verse from Proverbs which says, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps” (16:9, NLT). Oh, how true that is! Haven’t we all made plans that did not go the way we expected them to?

However, if you go back just a few verses in the same chapter, God tells us what we need to do to make our paths a bit straighter: “Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3, NLT). If we put His will above our own, obey His leading and set our desires aside, the plans we make for His glory will always succeed.

I will still read His Word, still take the time to journal about what He reveals to me, but if He has other plans for me, I choose to walk His path and not my own. I know I won’t fail when His will is done. And neither will you!

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Have a blessed week!

Dot-to-Dot

I used to love dot-to-dot puzzles when I was young. I must admit, I still enjoy them today—the revealing of a beautiful picture as your pencil (or pen, if you’re brave than I am!) progresses through the sequence of dots. It fascinates me how an artist created this work, then deconstructed it into mere dots, so that I could then play detective/artist and put it all back into focus.

 

 

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from print-ables.com

 

It recently occurred to me that our God is a master dot-to-dot artist. His work, the Word of God, is one seamlessly drawn piece. Yet we only tend to see the dots—a verse here, a chapter there, a favorite character or story over there…

However, when we open our hearts and our minds to the guidance of the Holy Spirit before we begin to read His Word, He can connect the dots for us, showing us the intricate beauty of His eternal Word.

If you desire a deeper understanding of the Bible, take a few moments to pray before you open it up. Ask the Spirit to reveal His truth to you, to connect those dots for you, so that you can see the whole awesome picture of His glory. Then marvel at the wonder He will reveal to you!

 

He Did This Just for You

The first Sunday of each month here at Colona Community Church, we celebrate Communion.

Every time I am blessed to participate in the act of Communion, I am reminded of a beautiful story that was shared at a retreat I was on a number of years ago. The young man who was speaking was reflecting on Jesus’ time on the cross. He told us to think on the idea that after Jesus had already endured so much, and even though He knew what was still to come before His resurrection, He looked out over the crowd beneath the cross. But He didn’t simply see the soldiers casting lots for His clothing or the women weeping over His crucifixion or the people mocking Him—He saw all of us, every man, woman, and child from creation to the end of days. And looking across that unfathomable sea of people, He locked eyes with you (yes, you) and said, “Even if you were the only one, I’d still do this.” While His body was broken and His blood was spilling, He looked on you with love and knew that He’d do whatever it took, face all of God’s wrath, be separated from His Father, just for you, just to save YOU.

He remembered you and me when He was on the cross, and that is why we should be honored and humbled to celebrate Communion in remembrance of Him and all He did (and still does) for us.

God bless you today and every day!