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Persevere In Times Of Difficulty – God Calls Abraham’s Family


Genesis 32:22-32 NIV

Jacob Wrestles With God

22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.

 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[a] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel,[b] saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel,[c] and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

Persevere In Times Of Difficulty (Notes)

Genesis 28 New International Version

28 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. 2 Go at once to Paddan Aram,[a] to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 3 May God Almighty[b] bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. 4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.” 5 Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.

6 Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman,” 7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. 8 Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; 9 so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.

Jacob’s Dream at Bethel

10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it[c] stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.[d] 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel,[e] though the city used to be called Luz.

20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord[f] will be my God 22 and[g] this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”


Genesis 32:1-21 New International Version

Jacob Prepares to Meet Esau

1 [a]Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2 When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is the camp of God!” So he named that place Mahanaim.[b]

3 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4 He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my lord Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now.

5 I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, male and female servants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.’”

6 When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”

7 In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups,[c] and the flocks and herds and camels as well. 8 He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group,[d] the group[e] that is left may escape.”

9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, Lord, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ 10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps.

11 Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. 12 But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’”

13 He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau: 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16 He put them in the care of his servants, each herd by itself, and said to his servants, “Go ahead of me, and keep some space between the herds.”

17 He instructed the one in the lead: “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘Who do you belong to, and where are you going, and who owns all these animals in front of you?’ 18 then you are to say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau, and he is coming behind us.’”

19 He also instructed the second, the third and all the others who followed the herds: “You are to say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. 20 And be sure to say, ‘Your servant Jacob is coming behind us.’” For he thought, “I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.” 21 So Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.

2 Corinthians 5:17 New International Version

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!

Ephesians 6:18 New International Version

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

What Does It Mean To Be Born Again


The Bible uses several metaphors involving birth to help explain what it means to have a saving relationship with Jesus. We find terms such as born again (John 3:3), born of God (John 1:13), and born of the Spirit (John 3:6). They all mean the same thing.

Birth metaphors are used because we all understand physical birth. When a baby is born, a new person emerges into the world. The new life will grow, and the young person will come to resemble his or her parents. When we are born of the Spirit, a “new person” arrives with a new spiritual life. And as we grow, we come to resemble our Father in heaven (Romans 8:29).

People try to know God through a variety of means: some try religion or following an ethical code; some turn to intellect or logic; others try to find God in nature; and others through emotional experiences, believing that God inhabits whatever feelings they can muster when they think about Him.

None of those bring us one step closer to actually communing with the God of the Bible because He cannot be known through our moral codes, our minds, our environment, or our emotions. He is Spirit, and those who would worship must worship “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

Imagine trying to paint a portrait using a hammer and nails or trying to bake a meal using pen and paper. It would not help to try harder or cry over it because both tasks are impossible given the tools mentioned. So it is with the flesh and the Spirit.

We cannot commune with a holy, incorporeal Being using sinful, fleshly means. Unless our spirits are reborn with life from God’s Spirit, we simply do not have the capability to fellowship with Him. We must be born of the Spirit.

God has instituted a way for fallen human beings to enter His holy presence, and it is the only way we can come to Him. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

When Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice for sin (John 10:18) and rose again, He opened a door that had been locked. When He died on the cross, the veil of the temple was torn in two, symbolizing the fact that He has made a way to enter God’s presence. God has opened the door to heaven so that whoever trusts in His Son’s sacrifice can be born again in his or her spirit (Mark 15:38).

When we place our faith in the risen Christ, a divine transaction takes place (2 Corinthians 5:21). God removes from us the sin, guilt, and condemnation we deserved because of our rebellion against Him. He throws our sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).

At the moment of repentance and faith, the Holy Spirit breathes new life into us, and our bodies become His temple (1 Corinthians 3:16). Our spirits can now commune with God’s Spirit as He assures us that we belong to Him (Romans 8:16).

We might think of the human spirit like a deflated balloon that hangs lifeless inside our hearts. We are scarcely aware of its existence until God calls our names and an awakening begins.

When we respond to God’s call with repentance and faith in what Jesus Christ has done for salvation, we are born of the Spirit. At that point the balloon inflates. The Holy Spirit moves into our spirits and fills us. He begins His transforming work so that we begin to resemble Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17Romans 8:29).

There are only two types of people in the world: those who are born of the Spirit and those who are not. In the end, only those two categories matter (John 3:3). Our earthly lives are extended opportunities for us to respond to God’s call and become born of the Spirit (Hebrews 3:15).

If Jesus paid the price for our sin, why do we still suffer the consequences of our sin?


The Bible gives the good news that Jesus paid the price for our sin (Ephesians 1:7), yet in many ways we still suffer the consequences of our sins. For example, a drug dealer may become a Christian in prison, but that doesn’t mean he will be released from prison the next day—he will still experience the consequences of his past sin. A born-again Christian who falls into adultery may lose his family, his career, etc.—even after he confesses and forsakes his sin, the consequences of his sin remain. Coming to Christ does not erase the temporal effects of sin; rather, our salvation guarantees that we will not face the eternal consequences of sin.

The consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23a). As sinners, we deserve to be eternally separated from God and His holiness. On the cross Christ paid the penalty of our sin with His own blood. He who knew no sin was made to be sin on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21). On the basis of Christ’s perfect sacrifice, those who believe are no longer under God’s condemnation (Romans 8:1).

It’s important to understand that, when the believer in Christ experiences consequences for sin, it is not because he is under God’s condemnation (Romans 8:1), His wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9), or His retribution (2 Thessalonians 1:8). Believers are under God’s grace (Romans 6:15). Jesus took the wrath of God upon Himself (Isaiah 53:10). Sin’s consequences still experienced by believers could be classified in one of these ways:

Universal consequences. Some of sin’s consequences are experienced perpetually by every human being on earth, because we are all children of Adam. We all have weeds growing in our gardens, we all face natural disasters, we all get sick and grow old, and we all eventually die physically (Romans 5:12). As sinners living in a sinful world, there’s no avoiding these consequences of original sin.

Natural consequences. We live in a world of cause and effect, where the law of sowing and reaping is in full effect. Some of sin’s consequences are built-in and practically guaranteed, no matter if the sinner is saved or unsaved. The Bible warns that sexual immorality is a sin committed against one’s own body (1 Corinthians 6:18). “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?” (Proverbs 6:27). If you steal something, you should expect to get caught and face the natural consequences that follow the sin of theft. If you resist arrest when you get caught, you pile on more consequences. Sowing and reaping.

Instructional consequences. Very likely, God allows some of sin’s consequences to remain in our lives to teach us the heinous nature of sin and to remind us to depend upon God’s grace. Sin is a serious enough problem for God to have sent His Son into the world to die. We dare not take sin lightly. In the face of sin’s consequences, we humble ourselves and seek God’s kingdom and righteousness all the more (see Matthew 6:33). When Ananias and Sapphira were disciplined for their sin, it was instructive for the church: “Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events” (Acts 5:11). See also 1 Corinthians 5:5 and 1 Timothy 1:20.

Disciplinary consequences. Some of sin’s consequences are the result of God’s treating us as a father should his children. There’s a difference between a penalty for sin and discipline for sin. As God’s children, we experience discipline designed to guide us back to the right path. “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son” (Hebrews 12:5–6; cf. Proverbs 3:11–12). Note how many of God’s children undergo discipline: “everyone” (Hebrews 12:8). We are all wayward at times. God’s purpose in allowing us to experience disciplinary consequences of sin, true to His nature, is perfect: “God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness” (Hebrews 12:10).

The church of Corinth provides an example of Christians facing the disciplinary consequences of their sin: in partaking of the Lord’s Table in an unworthy manner, they brought God’s displeasure: “That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 11:30). We see similar disciplinary action taken in 2 Samuel 12. Even after David confessed his sin and was forgiven, God allowed certain consequences to befall David and his household (verses 11–14).

God allows us to experience some of the temporal consequences of sin to show His love for us. If God never disciplined His straying children, He would not be a good Father. If we were never disciplined or never suffered the consequences for our wrong action, we would never learn right from wrong. We tend to learn from our mistakes more readily than we learn from our successes.

Praise the Lord for His goodness. He allows us to experience the temporal consequences of sin (for our own good). But He has saved us from the eternal consequences of sin. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins so we will never experience the second death, which is the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14). Believers in Christ are promised that the curse and consequences of sin will be completely removed one day, and “nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain” (Isaiah 11:9, NLT).