Cover of The Joy of the Lord
God said to Jacob, “Now move on to Bethel and settle there. Build an altar there to worship me—the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother, Esau.”
2 So Jacob told everyone in his household, “Destroy your idols, wash yourselves, and put on clean clothing. 3 We are now going to Bethel, where I will build an altar to the God who answered my prayers when I was in distress. He has stayed with me wherever I have gone.”
4 So they gave Jacob all their idols and their earrings, and he buried them beneath the tree near Shechem. 5 When they set out again, terror from God came over the people in all the towns of that area, and no one attacked them. 6 Finally, they arrived at Luz (now called Bethel) in Canaan. 7 Jacob built an altar there and named it El-bethel,£ because God had appeared to him there at Bethel when he was fleeing from Esau.
8 Soon after this, Rebekah’s old nurse, Deborah, died. She was buried beneath the oak tree in the valley below Bethel. Ever since, the tree has been called the “Oak of Weeping.”£
9 God appeared to Jacob once again when he arrived at Bethel after traveling from Paddan-aram. God blessed him 10 and said, “Your name is no longer Jacob; you will now be called Israel.”£ 11 Then God said, “I am God Almighty. Multiply and fill the earth! Become a great nation, even many nations. Kings will be among your descendants! 12 And I will pass on to you the land I gave to Abraham and Isaac. Yes, I will give it to you and your descendants.” 13 Then God went up from the place where he had spoken to Jacob.
14Jacob set up a stone pillar to mark the place where God had spoken to him. He then poured wine over it as an offering to God and anointed the pillar with olive oil. 15Jacob called the place Bethel—“house of God”—because God had spoken to him there.
Why did the people have these idols? Idols were sometimes seen more as good luck charms than as gods. Some Israelites, even though they worshiped God, had idols in their homes, just as some Christians today own good luck trinkets. Jacob believed that idols should have no place in his household. He wanted nothing to divert his family’s spiritual focus.
Jacob ordered his household to get rid of their idols. Unless we remove idols from our lives, they can ruin our faith. What idols do I have? None. An idol is anything we put before God. Idols don’t have to be physical objects; they can be thoughts or desires. Like Jacob, I should get rid of anything that could stand between me and God.
God reminded Jacob of his new name, Israel, which meant “one who struggles with God.” Although Jacob’s life was littered with difficulties and trials, his new name was a tribute to his desire to stay close to God despite life’s disappointments.
Many people believe that Christianity should offer a problem-free life. Consequently, as life gets tough, they draw back disappointed. Instead, they should determine to prevail with God through life’s storms. Problems and difficulties are painful but inevitable; I might as well see them as opportunities for growth. I can’t prevail with God unless I have troubles to prevail over.
In the middle of life’s continuing problems and challenges, God remained Jacob of his new name, Israel. Through this reminder, God shows he is faithful to his promises. God’s promises set believers apart.
On the basis of the counseling I do, I would say that the two greatest problems among Christians are a lack of understanding their position in Christ and a lack of knowing God as their Father. They have no family image, therefore, they feel cut off from other family members – members of the Body of Christ, as well as feeling alienated from God. Our fellowship is made solid only as we renew our thinking about God. What grief it must bring to God’s heart for us to cast an image on Him that is not true.
A man can be a teacher without being a father, but a true father will be a teacher. A man can be a lord without being a father, but a true father will be a good director of the home. A man can be a good father, but a true father will be a provider. It all fits. That is what motivates God – the delight in being a great father to His children on earth! What a joy to God’s heart when we respond as Jesus did when we respond as Jesus did when He was in Gethsemane. It was as if He said, “I know it’s going to hurt, but You are my Father, and I know You will be everything that I need. I will trust You.”
In my own family the greatest times with my children have been crazy times that only a family could enjoy. Times when we just go outdoors and tumble through the leaves with each other. Times when my son Johnny and I have played the whole evening away with some small creative object. Times when my sons and I just grab each other and hang on each other’s neck. Teachers and pupils do not do that; neither do sergeants and privates. There have been t5imes when my little Ann, who is now nine, and I have gone on dates together. We c come home with hearts so full of love for each other and so full of laughter that the joy of the Lord is our strength for days afterward. There have been times when we as a family sing at the top of our lungs. Only fathers take time for such activities.
God made us to enjoy Him….. God is our Father, and we are to enjoy Him forever. The family concept in heaven will be perfect in every way. Heaven on earth, is the ability to bring that concept to our4 own hearts , friends , and churches. (Is your church characterized by a sense of family, or is it an army or a classroom?) What a comfort to enjoy God like that! I can act as a child and treat Him as a father. I am free to fail, free to speak, what is a concern to me, free to be myself, free from fear, free from guilt.
(From The God You Can Know by Don DeHaan)
Have I been wronged or harmed and responded, “I’m going to get even if it’s the last thing I do!” Each time you remember the hurt, consciously turn to God for his justice and comfort. When resentment enters your mind today, say a quick silent prayer: “Not a chance! God, you are my father. Take over; I’ll follow.”
What is my “Bethel” where God has met me in times of To love Him back.By the fear of God? The strong desire to be the best servant I can be. Is there a difference? No, they are both based on loving Him with my whole heart.
What will you do today to thank God for the special places, promises and “fear of God” given to me? I will trust Him to guide me in all I do.
Embrace the snow Run with the ocean Delight in the trees Or a single lonely flower
Or a barefoot in the wet grass
Don’t wait Until all the problems are solved Or all the bills are paid.
You will wait forever Eternity will come and go And you Will still be waiting
Live in the now With all its problems and its agonies With its joy And its pain
Celebrate your pain Your despair Your anger It means you’re alive Look closer Breathe deeper Stand taller Stop grieving the past
There is joy and beauty Today
It is temporary Here now and gone So celebrate it While you can Celebrate the temporary.
- From Celebrate the Temporary by Clyde Reid