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in Hope

Pray for One

Pray for 1

 

Genesis 33:4
“But Esau ran to meet him, hugged him, threw his arms around him, and kissed him. Then they wept.”

This past week our LIFE Group dug into the story of Jacob and Esau. There is no doubt that this devotion doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what is to be learned through that story, but for now I want to focus on a small sliver that was absorbed this past week.  As we began to unpack the story I was pierced by this particular passage.

 

“But Esau ran to meet him, hugged him, threw his arms around him, and kissed him. Then they wept.”

 

Is there someone in your life that you have fallen out of relationship with where all hope of relationship is lost? I’m sure I could rephrase the question to be more assuming that all of us have someone in our lives where we (having lost all hope) desire a restored relationship; I do. You could be Esau in the story where you will need to extend forgiveness or you might be Jacob in need of grace and mercy. During LIFE Group I drifted off into the memories of my past, lamenting over a broken relationship with a friend of which I was the offender and starving for the impossible to become possible, starving for reconciliation.

 

No doubt there are several opinions and insights as to what was going through Jacob’s mind when he received the news that his brother Esau was headed his way. We know that he was afraid and distressed, we also know that thoughts of a fight, and death were on his mind as well. Whatever Jacob was thinking and feeling we see a path of healing that gives hope to us all. There are a couple of things we can glean from this story that can encourage and help us through broken relationships.

 

  1. God loves us and provides (in His timing) opportunities for relationships to heal. Jacob didn’t seek out Esau, Esau and Jacob were on a course that intersected with each other.
  2. Are we looking for opportunities in relationships when God places those from our past in front of us?
  3. Jacob prayed and asked God for help. Jacob could have chosen to run, fight, confront or work for peace and he chose peace. Jacob through prayer found peace from God and experienced His sovereign grace and timing.
  4. Jacob placed peace above all else, he sent gifts ahead of his family. These gifts of peace offered more than lip service, the gifts showed a willingness to sacrifice for the sake of peace and relationship.
  5. Jacob humbled himself before his brother and the reunion is beautiful.

 

 

In LIFE Group we concluded in silent prayer “PRAYING FOR 1”. We prayed for the Lord to reveal to us ONE person in our lives that we desired a restored relationship with and for the Lord to open the door of healing. Today you have an opportunity to “Pray for 1” ….will you open your heart and trust in the Lord to bring healing?

 

Blessings,

Jim Booth

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in Faith

Lip Service

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Matthew 15:8

"These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.

They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.”

 

What a pleasure and privilege it has been to visit Israel for the first time. To learn so much history and see so many places where Christ impacted, changed, and died for humanity. But when I ask myself the question "What is the purpose of my trip?" I need to be careful. Careful of what, you might ask? Careful of not changing or morphing into the image or likeness of Christ. If my trip to Israel is to simply learn history or to gain metaphoric nuggets of knowledge, that doesn't catalyze true change in my heart, then I dare say that it would be like a tree left unplanted next to the streams of life. I would be so close but yet so far away.

 

When visiting the assumed birth place of Christ (Church of the Nativity), I came face to face with humanity so lost in tradition, rituals, and places. It seemed the heart of God was absent from the hearts of those so eager to experience a sensationalist feeling of false holiness. Christians were arguing and fighting (even to the point of shoving one another) in the lines, to see a place that represents a part of Christ's history here on earth.

 

Another historical site (The Church of the Holy Sepulchre) is cared for by multiple Christian churches throughout the world. The Churches are in such dis-unity concerning the care and governing of this site, that they have given the keys of this site to the Muslims to open and close each day.

 

Before I go any further, let's make clear that this isn't a dig on those I encountered in Jerusalem. This is a heart check for myself. In my life, am I so different? Have I not found myself in senseless conflict with others? Have I found myself worshipping the things in or of the Church rather than the creator?

 

“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.” Romans 1:25 HCSB

 

Will I shake my head in disgust of those that are so far off base, or will I recognize that I am not so different?

 

No matter who we are as Christians we all have the propensity to drift from the pursuit of God's heart to mundane practices and traditions that deceive us into thinking that these practices are what makes us holy.

 

For example, as staff member of a Church, do I check a box each Sunday I show up to "work" instead of coming into the House of God with a true desire to worship Yahweh? It doesn't matter what "business" we have made of God's church, whether it is new processes, procedures, or even developing ideas or books like 10 Habits to Grow a Church. If it becomes the focus and turns us into worshippers of places, pictures, artifacts or business practices in the modern Church, we have lost sight of the heart of God. We begin to honor Him with our lips but our hearts are far from Him.

 

If I am courageous I will ask myself a few questions. You're welcome to join in if you wish...

 

  1. Do I wake up each day with a desire to know and have a heart after God?
  2. Am I willing to adjust areas of my life that are diluting a pure desire to worship Him rather than the things around His name?
  3. Will I be willing to be vulnerable and share with others close to me, areas in my life that have replaced God with boxes that I am checking because it is what I am supposed to do?

 

Lord, please draw my heart back to you and let my lips speak truly from a heart that is passionate about You.

 

Amen

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