Trust in the Lord. He is working in us to do us good.
The tables are turned on Jacob. The trickster is tricked! The ‘trick’ was according to the ‘custom’ that the elder daughter should be given in marriage before the younger one (Genesis 29:23, 25-26). Seven years became fourteen years (Genesis 29:18-20, 27, 30). Jacob did receive his heart’s desire, but there was a lesson to be learned: Going God’s way is better than getting your own way.
‘All things work together for good to those who love God’ (Romans 8:28) - this doesn’t mean that we always get what we want. We must learn to ‘let go and let God have His wonderful way’, and to say, ‘This God - His way is perfect’ (Psalm 18:30). Out of love for Rachel (Genesis 29:18, 20), Jacob served Laban for an extra seven years. We would serve Christ better if we loved Him more. Jesus still asks the question, ‘Do you love Me?’ (John 21:15-17).
Look to the Lord and receive His strength.
‘Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. Remember the wonderful works that He has done… ’ (Psalm 105:4-5).
The Lord gives strength to those who put their trust in Him. Trusting in Christ, we have this great testimony: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4:13).
How do we receive the Lord’s strength? We must ‘seek His face always.’
We must not think we can face difficult circumstances in our strength. Without the strength of the Lord, we will be defeated.
He has helped us in the past. Never forget this. Give thanks to Him for every victory won.
As you face temptation, remember the Lord’s promise of victory: ‘God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength. With the temptation, He will also provide the way of escape…’ (1 Corinthians 10:13).
‘He brought His people out with joy’ (Psalm 105:43).
When things are going badly and we feel like giving up, we must remember the Word of the Lord: ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Nehemiah 8:10). We are to ‘rejoice in the Lord always.’
The Lord does not leave us on our own when our time of testing comes. He is there for us in our time of need: ‘My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:4, 19).
When we are deeply conscious of our own weakness, the Lord comes to us with His Word of strength: ‘My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Through the Word of God, we receive strength. His Word brings joy to us. Let us sing ‘glad songs of victory’: ‘The Lord is my Strength, my Song, my Saviour’ (Psalm 118:14-15).
Fear the Lord and walk in His ways.
‘Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways’ (Psalm 128:1).
If we are to enjoy the Lord’s blessing, we must fear Him and walk in His ways. Many people despise the place of worship. They ‘pass by’. They have no desire to know ‘the blessing of the Lord’. God warns us that we must not allow this attitude to grow in us: ‘May all who hate Zion be put to shame.’
We must take care that our love for the Lord doesn’t ‘wither’ away. We must keep on praying that our love for Him will ‘grow.’
If we place no value on the Lord’s blessing, our lives will be empty. Come to the Lord with this prayer: ‘The greatest thing in all my life is knowing You, loving You, serving You. I want to know You more, love You more, serve You more’. He will ‘fill’ your life with His blessing (Psalm 129:5-8; Mission Praise, 646).
Love the Lord and let your life show that your love for Him is real.
Solomon was a complicated man. We wonder what was most important to him - his alliances with the world or his allegiance to the Lord, ‘building his own house’ or ‘building the House of the Lord’ (1 Kings 1-3)?
In 1 Kings 3:9-13, we learn that Solomon prized wisdom more than riches. In 1 Kings 3:14, Solomon is reminded that he must keep on loving the Lord: ‘If you will walk in My ways…’
We look at Solomon. We see ourselves. We claim to love the Lord. The world has a ‘fatal attraction’ for us. In each of us, there is conflict, a lifelong conflict between ‘the desires of the flesh’ and ‘the desires of the Spirit’.
We are faced with a choice. Will it be love for the Lord or love for the world? Don’t ‘abandon your first love’ (Galatians 5:17; 1 John 2:15; Revelation 2:4). Make it simple: Jesus comes first!
Walk with the Lord in the light of His Word.
‘The entrance of Your words gives light’ (Psalm 119:130).
The Word of God brings light into our lives. Sadly, many people ‘love darkness rather than light’. They refuse to ‘come to the light’. They prefer to remain in the darkness. They refuse to listen to what God is saying to them through His Word.
Then, when things are not going so well for them, they blame God. They say, ‘It’s all Your fault’!
Things could have been so different. They could have learned to spend time with God. They could have learned the lessons of faith which are found in God’s Word. They could have learned to cope with life’s difficulties. They could have been filled with the strength of the Lord. They would not be complaining against Him. They would be rejoicing in Him: He has ‘called us out of darkness into His marvellous light’ (1 Peter 2:10).
Live for the Lord. Let’s live in the power of the Spirit.
Each of us must choose. We can ‘live according to the flesh’ or we can ‘live according to the Spirit’. We can ‘set the mind on the flesh’ or we can ‘set the mind on the Spirit’ (Romans 8:5-6).
The new life in the Spirit is just the beginning. God is preparing us for the greater ‘glory that will be revealed in us’ (Romans 8:18). We have ‘the first fruits of the Spirit’. The Holy Spirit is ‘the guarantee of our inheritance’. He is the starter which whets our appetite for the main course!
With Him in our hearts, we long for more - ‘an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you’, ‘the redemption of our bodies’, ‘the glorious liberty of the children of God’ (Romans 8:21-23; Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 Peter 1:3-5). Led by the Spirit, strong in the Spirit, we press on to glory (Romans 8:14, 26, 17).
Hope in the Lord, looking beyond our life on earth to His coming Kingdom.
Jesus’ parables are so rich in spiritual content. They speak with an indirectness which is very direct! They may be parabolic in form, but they do go right to the heart of the matter in a way that is very challenging.
The parable of the ‘wheat and the weeds’ (Matthew 13:24-30, with explanation given in Matthew 13:36-43) contrasts a real believing response to Christ with an empty profession of faith in Him.
There is also something else - leave judgment to God. He knows those who are His and those who are not.
The parable of the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32) is a word of encouragement - Do not give up hope that the seed of God’s Word is growing, slowly and surely, in the hearts of those who do not appear to be bearing much fruit.
The parable of the yeast is also encouraging - What a difference even a few believers can make to a whole community!
Be patient. Do not doubt the power of God’s Word. Once God’s Word has begun to exert its influence among the people, great things will happen. The beginnings may seem small. Remember: nothing is insignificant when God is in it! Some may be on the verge of the kind of joyful discovery of Christ, described in Matthew 13:44-46!
The parable of the net (Matthew 13:47-50) is similar to the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:24-30). The separation of ‘the good’ and ‘the bad’ comes ‘at the end of the age’ (Matthew 13:48-49).
The Gospel is ‘old’ and ‘new’ (Matthew 13:52). We’ve known its teaching for years, yet there are always some ‘new treasures’ for us to discover. It’s sadly possible to hear the Word of God without believing it and enjoying its blessing.
Don’t let Christ be ‘a prophet without honour’ (Matthew 13:57). Honour Him in your heart and life.