"Give me a Word to sustain the weary; awaken my ear to listen." - Isaiah 50:4

Tag: peace

Jacob’s Voice, But Esau’s Skin

“…The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau…. And he did not recognize him….so he blessed him.” – Genesis 27:22-23

This chapter in the book of Genesis details the story of how a mother (Rebekah) plotted and schemed with her younger son to deceive his father (her husband). The story highlights the importance of the gift of discernment and the act of waiting to be confirmed when we are unsure of a decision or feel pressured into making a rushed decision. Let’s examine some of the lessons from this story that will help guide us when making critical life decisions.

Don’t Bless (Cosign/Condone/Engage In) What You Don’t Recognize

The Bible says “Isaac did NOT recognize Jacob… SO he blessed him…” (vs 23). Sounds absurd doesn’t it? Yet, you and I have been guilty of the very same thing at one point in our lives or another. How many times in life have we proceeded with a decision or an act, in the midst of painful uncertainty, crippling doubt, or lack of peace? It is evident that Isaac was unsure of his decision because even after blessing Jacob (thinking it was Esau), he asked him, “Are you really my son Esau?” (vs 24). There are times that God will warn us of deception in our lives, but we ignore the Spirit’s promptings and proceed anyway. Why? Most times it’s because we’re afraid (afraid of missing out on a “good” opportunity; afraid of losing something we value; afraid of disappointing others; afraid of failure; and the list goes on).

Decisions That Are Truly Spirit-Led Are Never Made From A Place Of Fear

Isaac feared that he would die before blessing his firstborn (vs 2-4), so he rushed ahead despite his doubts. If fear is driving your decisions, recognize that you are playing right into the hands of the enemy, as fear is his most prominent tool. The Bible says “God has not given us the spirit of fear” (2 Timothy 1:7), neither is God the author of confusion, but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33). So, if it is God who is leading you to make a certain decision, EVERY Word HE sends will serve to confirm or clarify His will, not confuse it. If there is contradiction, that simply means we need to wait to be confirmed by His peace before proceeding.

Use ALL Your Senses

Another very important decision-making lesson from this passage is found in verse 1, which tells us that “Isaac was old and his eyes were so dim that he could not see”. Sight is one of the five senses that God has given us to help connect us to the world. Furthermore, spiritual sight (vision/discernment) is especially needed as we connect with the world and navigate life situations. ALL your spiritual senses must be in tune when making critical decisions. If you’re not hearing God clearly, or you can’t see exactly what He’s showing you; if something smells “fishy”, tastes “off”, or doesn’t feel right…. Do not proceed! Wait for the Holy Spirit to confirm what it is that He wants you to do. One very important lesson I’ve learned over the past couple of years is simply this – When the skin feels like Esau, but the voice sounds like Jacob, do not proceed! Wait to be confirmed by God’s peace!

Check your circle

Finally, be careful of the manipulators and deceivers that are closely connected to you. It was Rebekah’s (Jacob’s own mother’s) idea to trick Isaac (vs 5-10). Recognize that as humans we are innately selfish; and people, in wanting their own needs met, don’t mind deceiving you in the process. You need people around you who: have your best interests at heart, have the right motives, and will hold you accountable to God’s Word and will for your life. Ask God for wisdom and discernment to reveal the people in your circle.

Prayer: Lord, we want to make decisions that align with Your will for our lives. Help us to not be deceived by the enemy or misguided by people. We recognize that the enemy cannot stop your will, so sometimes he tries to cause us to rush ahead because he knows that TIMING with You is EVERYTHING. We cannot separate Your will from Your timing. Speak to our hearts today Lord; unite our spiritual senses; and guide us by Your undeniable peace. Amen.



Is It Worth It?

What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? Whatcould you ever trade your soul for? – Mark 8:36-37 MSG

I received a devotional text message this morning that included the abovementioned scripture and it got me thinking… How many times do we lose ourselves in our personal pursuits? How many times do we betray the integrity of our hearts to get to where we think we want to be, only to discover that the destination wasn’t worth the journey? There comes a time, after an extended period of warning, that God actually leaves us to be consumed by the “thing” we refuse to surrender. I think this is the true essence of Mark 8:36-37. The reflective, yet rhetorical, questions posed serve the dual purpose of examination and warning.

I, like every one of you, have prayer requests sitting on the altar that have yet to be answered by God….. or perhaps have been answered, but have not yet manifested in this physical (natural) world. I have come to accept, however, that God knows everything and moves in accordance to this higher knowledge. He tells us in His Word that only He knows the plans He has for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11). So, with this truth in mind, I have to really process Mark’s questions. What if I do get everything I want and find that I really didn’t want them? Or that they really don’t satisfy/fulfill me? Or worse, what if I get everything I want and find that it changes who I am….who God intended me to be? Would it really be worth it at that point? Would I truly be satisfied and fulfilled having attained all I desired?

At a certain point in your walk with God, you have to just accept that He knows best and that not everything you desire/want is good FOR you. Not because something is good TO you, means it’s good FOR you. We have to realize that not all our desires are in line with what God wants for us. That is why we have to be careful of misinterpreting the scripture in Psalm 37:4, which states “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Too often we take that to mean that whatever we desire, once we delight ourselves in God, He’ll give it to us. We have to be careful of that interpretation because our desires come from the heart; that place the Bible calls “deceitful and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). So, how can we be so sure that the desires that we are delighting in God to receive, are actually pleasing to God? The true revelation behind Psalm 37:4 is this – If we delight ourselves in the Lord, then HE will GIVE our heart what it should desire. He will literally place a desire (for whatever He wants) in our hearts. Picture God handing your heart a box marked “desire”. That’s the latent essence of that scripture. And once we are delighting in Him, the desires He gives us will bring us more fulfillment, peace, and satisfaction than our own “deceitful and wicked” heart-generated desires could ever bring.

What does it profit you to get everything you want, to please people, to advance in all your pursuits, to check everything off your bucket list, if it causes you to move away from who you are at your core, or causes you to lose the connection you once had with God? Do you have real peace, or are you just comfortable? My friends, I have found (from personal experience) that NOTHING is worth “losing your soul” for. Absolutely nothing.

Prayer: Lord, we’re often disappointed and devastated when we don’t get what we want or what we have worked hard for. Sometimes we venture outside of your will just to pursue things we think will help satisfy our flesh or give us a sense of worth. Help us to realize that although getting our heart-generated desires may bring us comfort and perhaps even the approval and acceptance of man, it will never bring us true peace and ultimate fulfillment. It profits us nothing to gain everything we (think we) want and simultaneously lose ourselves…and our connection to You. Give us the strength to make the Grace-afforded trade of our desires for Yours. Amen.


Chastised Peace

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and with His stripes we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5.

While meditating on Isaiah 53 this morning, this verse and particular line resonated with me. I pondered the notion of peace being chastised. Peace, by its very definition means tranquility or freedom from disturbance; while chastisement means punishment. Why would Christ be punished because of and for our peace? Well, two thoughts came to mind and although this understanding is fresh for me, it has already given life to my spirit.

The first thought is the fact that Christ bore ALL our sins – including the sin of contentment with sinful habits and practices. Contentment is synonymous with peace. It is quite possible to feel “peaceful” when doing something wrong, if you feel no accompanying conviction. After all, the scripture says, there is a way that SEEMS right to a man, but this way ultimately leads to death and destruction (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). So “the chastisement of our peace was upon Him” speaks to the fact that Christ was punished because of our peaceful contentment with sin – those things that we continue to engage in with no remorse or conviction, or despite our convictions.

The second thought comes from the Garden of Eden, where we first lost our righteous peace. You see, when Adam and Eve were created, they were built with a default character setting that included all 9 fruit of the spirit (ref. Galatians 5:22-23). They were created perfectly in God’s own image. Because of sin’s influence, a PIECE of fruit cost them their PEACE. And I wonder today, how much peace we continue to forfeit… just to have a piece of whatever our “fruit” is? So, Christ was not only chastised because of our peace (i.e. our peaceful contentment with sin), He was also chastised for our peace. Meaning, He bore stripes (beatings) so we could experience righteous peace again. The righteous peace that was originally a part of our salvation package, has now been reset as our default setting.

Recognizing now that Jesus was punished because of your peace and for your peace, what will your response be to Him? The Word of God says that if we have received the wonderful gift of Christ’s sacrifice for us and we turn away from it or reject it, it is like we “crucify Him afresh and openly shame Him” (Hebrews 6:4-6). And we all have a sense of what that feels like – to make sacrifices for the people we love, only to have them in turn become rejecting, neglecting, or even dismissive towards us at times. It causes great hurt and shame, which is exacerbated if we sense that they either don’t care that they’re hurting us or are nonchalant in their response to our pain. Situations like this indicate that even in the natural there’s a point where someone else’s “peace” can sometimes feel like chastisement to you. Imagine what Christ must have felt.

I challenge us today to do a heart-evaluation:

1. What area(s) of your life have you become “peacefully content” with, despite it being dishonoring to God?
2. What was it that you had a piece of (i.e. engaged in) that has consequently affected your peace?
3. Have you rejected the message behind the chastisement that Christ endured because of your peace and for your peace?

Let’s endeavor today, and as we transition into a new year, not to crucify Christ afresh by our actions. Once was enough. Let’s claim the righteous peace that Blood was shed for us to have, and let us in turn share that peace with others.