“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2 NKJV
Let me open today with a verse that I have repeated often these last few weeks, both here and in person. As I press in closer to God, God has shown me areas that I had to surrender, be delivered from, or otherwise deal with because they are hindrances to getting closer to Him. What if we could skip all this work and just pay our way through? (Hold up, don’t leave yet!! I haven’t lost my mind – I have a thought, though.)
Dear Heavenly Father – Thank you for letting me draw closer to you and wanting a relationship with me! Thank you for wanting a deeper relationship with all of us! Thank you for your hand in our lives. Please open our ears to hear what you are saying. Please open our eyes to see and open our understanding that we may know you. Please continue to pour out your grace upon us! Continually, all we want is more of you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen
We know that salvation from the wrath of God is free and all we need to do is believe (see the section below about “Relationship”). Free to everyone is the fact that Jesus made a way to have a restored relationship with God and a way to avoid eternal damnation. With a little faith to accept that – we are on our way – That is the easy part. But from there we must work out our salvation. It would seem there is the cost of “work”:
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13 NKJV
Through a desire to get to know God, we see in verse 13, that it is GOD who works in you and that transformative grace and love of God causes you to will (or to want to obey His will) and to obey His will. So maybe God does the work in us – so then, what are WE “working out”?
Let’s work this out: Why does it say in revelations that He wants us to be Hot Christians and if we are on the warm side (lukewarm) He would spit us out of heaven!?!?! (Revelation 3:16)
Why does it say we can do a whole bunch of things for God – but get to the gates of heaven and he will point us away into eternal damnation?!?!?
”Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:21-23 KJV
Obviously there is something between believing and being saved and being permitted into heaven. There is that verse about professing. And the verse on keeping the commandments. But what is the thing that guarantees us heaven?
Heaven is a wonderful place, filled with beauty and grace – Hell is a horrible place of pain and suffering and terror. So first of all, how do we get into heaven and second, what would you pay to get to heaven and be saved from eternal damnation??
“16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
18 He said to Him, “Which ones?”
Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ 19 ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Matthew 19:16-22 NKJV
And there it is! Give up everything and follow Jesus. Jesus isn’t asking more of us than He Himself has offered us; He gave up His life for us. No cash payment – just you.
The rich young ruler in Matthew 19 (above) had the wrong perspective. Jesus said he’ll still have treasures, but they will be in heaven. But sadly for this kid, He just missed the boat.
I got to a point in my life where I had made such a mess of things I felt like I had nothing left – Easier for me to give up those cares and run recklessly into the arms of a saving God. Right? Well, there were struggles. Things I thought were gone forever came back. Things I thought I wanted were suddenly available again to me. It wasn’t easy. I was well aware of His Covenant and I made a very intentional agreement with Him to keep my end of it.
This covenant, I have taught on before, is the key. Ya see, we aren’t “saved” even though we are saved from eternal damnation. We got caught on the wrong word. The covenant, or promise or marriage or commitment – the restoration of a relationship between God and us – this is what it is all about. Not about heaven or hell. It is about having access to ALL – ALL – of God. Access to His power, authority, to His gifts – to healing – to raising the dead – to casting out demons – wait!! Even more and better is: we have access to heaven and a new earth and Jesus and grace and a perfect will played out in our lives.
AND as covenants, promises, marriages and commitments have 2 parties with obligations – so does this. In exchange for full unhindered access to all that is God – we give Him us. Uninhibited, unhindered, full access – laying ourselves at the altar – not getting back up, but instead asking Him to reveal anything else that needs to be sacrificed.
What would you pay for complete access to God and heaven? What would you pay to be spared from eternal damnation? Would you give it all? Give your hopes and dreams for the good, good, plan the Lord has for you? Give up your pride, autonomy and will to obey a mighty God for His victories in your life?
OK let’s keep it real – this is tough to understand. Because most people in today’s world have never seen a “miracle”. Maybe you have seen a sinner like me transformed into a Jesus Freak like me – which really is a miracle. But have you seen a short crooked leg grow? Or a blind man see? God has seemed so silent and many have not seen these things. But that was just the dry season – AND IT IS ABOUT TO RAIN!
God is looking for those who have the faith, have sown the righteousness, who have broken up the fallow ground, who are presenting themselves (ALL of themselves) a living sacrifice to pour out his living waters – the liquid truth, life and light upon them (Hosea 10:12 and a few other verses). Get ready, get thirsty, want more of God and want more of God! (I know I repeated that).
“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” Isaiah 44:3 ESV
King David had quite a battle keeping his flesh under control as we see throughout the story of His life – but he was a man after God’s own heart – oh chase God’s heart! And the Apostle Paul says his flesh does what it isn’t supposed to because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. I point this out so you understand there is NO condemnation in God. He is convicting us to give up more – to go deeper – to keep working to get that flesh under control! This is conviction for correction to bring us closer to our promises and blessings and be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Keep pressing it – where we want to be will cost us everything. But we have nothing really to lose and everything to gain.
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen
I confirm that through my relationship with God and through prayer and communication with Him, I will actively seek what I need to surrender in order to present myself a living sacrifice. I will ask the Lord to deliver me from any bondages and stronghold that hinder. I praise and thank Him for His grace and goodness!
MEMORY WORK: 2 Corinthians 10:4
NKJV – “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds”
NAS – “for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”
ESV – “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”
NLT – “We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.”
NIV – “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”
Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!
BIBLE READING: Genesis 30-31 NKJV
30 Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die!”
2 And Jacob’s anger was aroused against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?”
3 So she said, “Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, and she will bear a child on my knees, that I also may [a]have children by her.” 4 Then she gave him Bilhah her maid as wife, and Jacob went in to her. 5 And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. 6 Then Rachel said, “God has judged my case; and He has also heard my voice and given me a son.” Therefore she called his name [b]Dan. 7 And Rachel’s maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8 Then Rachel said, “With [c]great wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and indeed I have prevailed.” So she called his name [d]Naphtali.
9 When Leah saw that she had stopped bearing, she took Zilpah her maid and gave her to Jacob as wife. 10 And Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 Then Leah said, [e]“A troop comes!” So she called his name [f]Gad. 12 And Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13 Then Leah said, “I am happy, for the daughters will call me blessed.” So she called his name [g]Asher.
14 Now Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
15 But she said to her, “Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?”
And Rachel said, “Therefore he will lie with you tonight for your son’s mandrakes.”
16 When Jacob came out of the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come in to me, for I have surely hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” And he lay with her that night.
17 And God listened to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Leah said, “God has given me my wages, because I have given my maid to my husband.” So she called his name [h]Issachar. 19 Then Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. 20 And Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons.” So she called his name [i]Zebulun. 21 Afterward she bore a daughter, and called her name [j]Dinah.
22 Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. 23 And she conceived and bore a son, and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” 24 So she called his name [k]Joseph, and said, “The Lord shall add to me another son.”
Jacob’s Agreement with Laban
25 And it came to pass, when Rachel had borne Joseph, that Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own place and to my country. 26 Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, and let me go; for you know my service which I have done for you.”
27 And Laban said to him, “Please stay, if I have found favor in your eyes, for I have learned by experience that the Lord has blessed me for your sake.” 28 Then he said, “Name me your wages, and I will give it.”
29 So Jacob said to him, “You know how I have served you and how your livestock has been with me. 30 For what you had before I came was little, and it has increased to a great amount; the Lord has blessed you [l]since my coming. And now, when shall I also provide for my own house?”
31 So he said, “What shall I give you?”
And Jacob said, “You shall not give me anything. If you will do this thing for me, I will again feed and keep your flocks: 32 Let me pass through all your flock today, removing from there all the speckled and spotted sheep, and all the brown ones among the lambs, and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and these shall be my wages. 33 So my righteousness will answer for me in time to come, when the subject of my wages comes before you: every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and brown among the lambs, will be considered stolen, if it is with me.”
34 And Laban said, “Oh, that it were according to your word!” 35 So he removed that day the male goats that were speckled and spotted, all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had some white in it, and all the brown ones among the lambs, and gave them into the hand of his sons. 36 Then he put three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks.
37 Now Jacob took for himself rods of green poplar and of the almond and chestnut trees, peeled white strips in them, and exposed the white which was in the rods. 38 And the rods which he had peeled, he set before the flocks in the gutters, in the watering troughs where the flocks came to drink, so that they should conceive when they came to drink. 39 So the flocks conceived before the rods, and the flocks brought forth streaked, speckled, and spotted. 40 Then Jacob separated the lambs, and made the flocks face toward the streaked and all the brown in the flock of Laban; but he put his own flocks by themselves and did not put them with Laban’s flock.
41 And it came to pass, whenever the stronger livestock conceived, that Jacob placed the rods before the eyes of the livestock in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods. 42 But when the flocks were feeble, he did not put them in; so the feebler were Laban’s and the stronger Jacob’s. 43 Thus the man became exceedingly prosperous, and had large flocks, female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.
Jacob Flees from Laban
31 Now Jacob heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, “Jacob has taken away all that was our father’s, and from what was our father’s he has acquired all this wealth.” 2 And Jacob saw the countenance of Laban, and indeed it was not favorable toward him as before. 3 Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.”
4 So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field, to his flock, 5 and said to them, “I see your father’s [m]countenance, that it is not favorable toward me as before; but the God of my father has been with me. 6 And you know that with all my might I have served your father. 7 Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me. 8 If he said thus: ‘The speckled shall be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore speckled. And if he said thus: ‘The streaked shall be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore streaked. 9 So God has taken away the livestock of your father and given them to me.
10 “And it happened, at the time when the flocks conceived, that I lifted my eyes and saw in a dream, and behold, the rams which leaped upon the flocks were streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted. 11 Then the Angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, ‘Jacob.’ And I said, ‘Here I am.’ 12 And He said, ‘Lift your eyes now and see, all the rams which leap on the flocks are streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family.’ ”
14 Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, “Is there still any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house? 15 Are we not considered strangers by him? For he has sold us, and also completely consumed our money. 16 For all these riches which God has taken from our father are really ours and our children’s; now then, whatever God has said to you, do it.”
17 Then Jacob rose and set his sons and his wives on camels. 18 And he carried away all his livestock and all his possessions which he had gained, his acquired livestock which he had gained in Padan Aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan. 19 Now Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel had stolen the household[n] idols that were her father’s. 20 And Jacob stole away, unknown to Laban the Syrian, in that he did not tell him that he intended to flee. 21 So he fled with all that he had. He arose and crossed the river, and headed[o] toward the mountains of Gilead.
Laban Pursues Jacob
22 And Laban was told on the third day that Jacob had fled. 23 Then he took his brethren with him and pursued him for seven days’ journey, and he overtook him in the mountains of Gilead. 24 But God had come to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said to him, “Be careful that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad.”
25 So Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mountains, and Laban with his brethren pitched in the mountains of Gilead.
26 And Laban said to Jacob: “What have you done, that you have stolen away unknown to me, and carried away my daughters like captives taken with the sword? 27 Why did you flee away secretly, and steal away from me, and not tell me; for I might have sent you away with joy and songs, with timbrel and harp? 28 And you did not allow me to kiss my sons and my daughters. Now you have done foolishly in so doing. 29 It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad.’ 30 And now you have surely gone because you greatly long for your father’s house, but why did you steal my gods?”
31 Then Jacob answered and said to Laban, “Because I was afraid, for I said, ‘Perhaps you would take your daughters from me by force.’ 32 With whomever you find your gods, do not let him live. In the presence of our brethren, identify what I have of yours and take it with you.” For Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.
33 And Laban went into Jacob’s tent, into Leah’s tent, and into the two maids’ tents, but he did not find them. Then he went out of Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s tent. 34 Now Rachel had taken the [p]household idols, put them in the camel’s saddle, and sat on them. And Laban [q]searched all about the tent but did not find them. 35 And she said to her father, “Let it not displease my lord that I cannot rise before you, for the manner of women is with me.” And he searched but did not find the [r]household idols.
36 Then Jacob was angry and rebuked Laban, and Jacob answered and said to Laban: “What is my [s]trespass? What is my sin, that you have so hotly pursued me? 37 Although you have searched all my things, what part of your household things have you found? Set it here before my brethren and your brethren, that they may judge between us both! 38 These twenty years I have been with you; your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried their young, and I have not eaten the rams of your flock. 39 That which was torn by beasts I did not bring to you; I bore the loss of it. You required it from my hand, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. 40 There I was! In the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep departed from my eyes. 41 Thus I have been in your house twenty years; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. 42 Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked you last night.”
Laban’s Covenant with Jacob
43 And Laban answered and said to Jacob, “These daughters are my daughters, and these children are my children, and this flock is my flock; all that you see is mine. But what can I do this day to these my daughters or to their children whom they have borne? 44 Now therefore, come, let us make a [t]covenant, you and I, and let it be a witness between you and me.”
45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. 46 Then Jacob said to his brethren, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there on the heap. 47 Laban called it [u]Jegar Sahadutha, but Jacob called it [v]Galeed. 48 And Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me this day.” Therefore its name was called Galeed, 49 also Mizpah,[w] because he said, “May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from another. 50 If you afflict my daughters, or if you take other wives besides my daughters, although no man is with us—see, God is witness between you and me!”
51 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Here is this heap and here is this pillar, which I have placed between you and me. 52 This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not pass beyond this heap to you, and you will not pass beyond this heap and this pillar to me, for harm. 53 The God of Abraham, the God of Nahor, and the God of their father judge between us.” And Jacob swore by the [x]Fear of his father Isaac. 54 Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, and called his brethren to eat bread. And they ate bread and stayed all night on the mountain. 55 And early in the morning Laban arose, and kissed his sons and daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned to his place.
- Genesis 30:3 Lit. be built up by her
- Genesis 30:6 Lit. Judge
- Genesis 30:8 Lit. wrestlings of God
- Genesis 30:8 Lit. My Wrestling
- Genesis 30:11 So with Qr., Syr., Tg.; Kt., LXX, Vg. in fortune
- Genesis 30:11 Lit. Troop or Fortune
- Genesis 30:13 Lit. Happy
- Genesis 30:18 Lit. Wages
- Genesis 30:20 Lit. Dwelling
- Genesis 30:21 Lit. Judgment
- Genesis 30:24 Lit. He Will Add
- Genesis 30:30 Lit. at my foot
- Genesis 31:5 Lit. face
- Genesis 31:19 Heb. teraphim
- Genesis 31:21 Lit. set his face toward
- Genesis 31:34 Heb. teraphim
- Genesis 31:34 Lit. felt
- Genesis 31:35 Heb. teraphim
- Genesis 31:36 transgression
- Genesis 31:44 treaty
- Genesis 31:47 Lit., in Aram., Heap of Witness
- Genesis 31:47 Lit., in Heb., Heap of Witness
- Genesis 31:49 Lit. Watch
- Genesis 31:53 A reference to God