Devotions for March 30 – April 4, 2020

The Stay At Home edict by Governor Walz means that many families will be spending more time together. This week we have the opportunity to read about one of the most important families in the Bible – Jacob’s family.

 Jacob is one of the most important people in the Old Testament.  However many people aren’t familiar with his story.

 This week we have the opportunity to read and learn about six important stories in Jacob’s life.  Each of them reveals a part of the mess of Jacob’s family.  The deepness of the messes never did negate the power of God in working for good.

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Monday, March 30

Read Genesis 25:19-28

Jacob might be the 4th most important person in the Old Testament—after David, Moses & Abraham.  

Jacob was born in conflict.  In the womb he and his brother caused pain to his mother—so much so that Rebekah wondered why she should continue living.  When he was born he came out of Rebekah’s womb holding onto Essau’s heel.  According to a text note in the Harper’s Study Bible another name for Jacob is “He takes by the heel or he supplants.”

As Jacob grew up he encountered a family where favorites were played.  Jacob’s dad loved Esau more and Jacob’s mother loved Jacob more. 

What a mess!  Conflict was part of Jacob and his reality.   

Experiencing conflict in our family is not desirable, but it’s real.  And it’s similar to what happened in Jacob’s family—the First Family.

Tuesday, March 31

Read Genesis 25:29-34

The conflict that happened at birth between Esau and Jacob now reached a zenith in this story.  Jacob manipulated Esau into sharing Esau’s birth rite with Jacob. What would lead Jacob to do this?  Was it manipulation or desire for status or perhaps a need to be a leader?  Or perhaps he wanted to hurt his brother.

It’s hard not to judge Jacob in this story.  He manipulated Esau into selling something that was important.  Esau could have said no—but Jacob tempted Esau when Esau was famished and vulnerable.

Whatever your view on the sale of Esau’s birth rite to Jacob, it wouldn’t be surprising if we’ve experienced this type of manipulation in our own family.  It’s a mess!

Fortunately this is not the final story of the relationship between Esau and Jacob.

Wednesday, April 1

Read Genesis 29:21-20 

Life was never easy for Jacob.  He worked for seven years to procure Rachel as his wife.  Then on his wedding night he found out he had mistakenly married Leah.  And to be able to marry Rachel he had to work another seven years. 

He worked fourteen years in order to be married to his love.  What a mess!

Despite this mess God continued to work for good through Jacob’s life.  God didn’t prevent this pain from happening, but God continually worked for good through the situation. 

If you are experiencing a hard time, know that God is working for good through it.  Do you have the patience to wait for it?

Thursday, April 2

Read Genesis 32:22-32

Fast forward many years—Esau and Jacob are about to reconcile with each other.  (Later in the story Jacob stole the blessing that his father had intended for Esau). 

This story shared what happened to Jacob the night before he was scheduled to meet with Esau.  Jacob had no idea how Esau would treat him. 

Jacob wrestled all night with a man—many people see the man as being an angel.  

Verses 27-28 are significant. 

“So [the man] said to [Jacob], ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’  Then the man said ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.”

This is the first time that the word, “Israel” is used in the Old Testament.  The naming of Jacob as Israel is significant.  Many different interpretations could be offered.  One is the story foreshadows the eventual conflict that happened between God and the nation of Israel; another one is the power of naming that God has on our life. 

But this is a messy story!  Can you imagine wrestling all night with God before you are to encounter something very significant? 

Jacob walked away from this wrestling match with a limp.  For the rest of his life he had a physical reminder of this evening.

Friday, April 3

Read Genesis 37:29-36

Amidst all the pain the Jacob experienced in his life, this was probably the most painful story.  He was told that Joseph—this favorite son—was killed.  Jacob didn’t know until later that his sons were lying to him.

It’s hard to imagine lying to your father about selling your brother and then seeing the pain in your father’s face.  What a mess!  This is a difficult story. 

It’s important not to look too quickly for the silver lining in this story because looking for it can negate the seriousness of what happened. 

However God didn’t abandon Jacob’s family during this time.  God knew that this terrible pain happened, but God was still present.  God didn’t enter into the situation and change it or prevent it from happening.  But God was also very present.

If we are going through a difficult time, it’s significant to know that God is still with us.  Perhaps God hasn’t and won’t fly into the situation and stop all the pain from happening.  But the reality of terrible pain doesn’t negate the potential for good that can happen. 

Sometimes it takes tremendous faith to continue believing amidst terrible pain.  Part of faith is believing—even when the evidence can’t convince us—that pain will not have the final word.

Saturday, April 4

Read Genesis 45:25-28

Towards the end of his life Jacob received one of the greatest gifts of his life.  He was told that his son, Joseph was still alive. 
Devotions for March 23 – March 28, 2020

During this uncertain time of dealing with the COVID-19 virus, people still have the opportunity to be a blessing and to bless others. The Scriptures are full of stories that share understandings of a blessing.  This week we will have the opportunity to learn and study them.

May you be a blessing through your own study of blessing!

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Monday, March 23

Read Genesis 1:20-23, 1:26-31

In the Creation Story the Creator God was active in blessing.  God blessed the sea creatures and the flying creatures (verse 22).  God also blessed humankind (verse 1:28)

One way to understand a blessing is that some important divine “stuff” is transferred to that which is being blessed.  In the church we call this the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit resides within us.  It is the mysterious way that God takes residence in each of our bodies.

We are blessed by the Spirit’s presence.

Today take some time to notice how you are blessed by God.  Be aware that the Holy Spirit is with you.  Take note of how this blessing always goes with you. 

No matter how you are feeling today, you are carrying the Holy Spirit.  What a blessing!  What a wonderful gift!

 As you pray today, pray for a blessing on a family member.

Tuesday, March 24

Read Genesis 12:1-3

Some people believe that this story should have started the entire Bible.  In the calling of Abram, God started the relationship between God and the people of Israel.  All three significant religions—Christianity, Islam, and Judaism trace their origins back to this story.

Notice that God told Abram that God would make Abram great.  And notice that God told Abram that Abram would be blessed and that Abram would be a blessing to others.

Often when we think of something great we think of something powerful or majestic.  In this story “great” has another meaning.  Think of greatness in terms of blessing others.

You have an opportunity to be great today!!  You can do this by blessing someone in an extraordinary way.  Be aware of your opportunities!

As you pray today, pray for a blessing on someone in your neighborhood.


Wednesday, March 25

Read Numbers 6:22-27

These five verses are often known as the “Aaronic blessing.”  We hear them sometimes as a blessing or benediction at the end of worship.

This is a beautiful blessing to memorize.  Try memorizing it today.  Carry the Scripture with you.  Consider putting someone’s name in the verses and pray it as a blessing on that person.

Here are the words of the blessing.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26 

As you pray today, pray for a blessing on someone from Chain of Lakes.


Thursday, March 26

Read Deuteronomy 10:6-9 

The Levites became known as a group of people who were set apart for priestly duties.  One of those duties was to bless people in God’s name.

We might not be called to be set apart to be a priest, but we have the same calling as the Levites to bless people.  Imagine how the church would change if the people in the church became known as those who bless others. 

How powerful it would be if this became how you and I became known as people who blessed others.  Imagine if people who described Chain of Lakes said, “those people are the people who bless us and our community.” 

Being a group of people set apart for blessing is not something just meant for “religious people who are paid.”  It’s meant for you and your family, too.

As you pray today, pray for blessings on all of the staffs of hospitals testing and treating people with the COVID-19 virus.

Friday, March 27

Read Luke 9:12-17

What’s often missed in this story of the feeding of the 5,000 is how Jesus blessed the bread and blessed the fish.  See verse 16:

“And taking the five loaves and the two fish, Jesus looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them,”

Somehow this small amount of food became enough to feed 5,000 people.

A blessing isn’t magic, but when a blessing takes place magical things happen.  Events happen that we weren’t expecting or anticipating. 

We probably have had times in our own lives when we were blessed—something happened to us that we weren’t expecting.  It wasn’t necessarily magic, but it was like magic.  We couldn’t have ever anticipated what happened.

As you pray today, pray for a blessing on government officials who are making decisions on the best way to go forward.

Saturday, March 28

Read Matthew 26:26-29

The first act of Jesus with the bread was to bless it.  Jesus had been celebrating the Passover meal with his followers.  He then blessed bread.   

This blessing was extraordinary.  When we celebrate Communion we still receive this blessing.  God loves us in a way that we cannot even imagine. 

God promises that we will never be alone.  Through the cross we are forgiven of our sins; through the resurrection we are promised eternal life; through the Spirit we are challenged to create a world according to God’s desires.  What blessings!

You might remember some moments when you’ve been blessed through Communion.  Take a moment to remember these blessings.  What was happening?  How were you blessed?  How did that experience form you? 

As you pray today, praise God for the spiritual gift of blessing.