by C. Harmon
Jacob lived true to the meaning of his name: “deceiver.” He tricked his aged father, Isaac, into giving him the blessing that belonged to his older brother, Esau. Under Esau’s threat of murder, Jacob fled far from his father’s home. For the next twenty years he lived a frustrating life with his Uncle Laban. Jacob was now a victim himself of his uncle’s deceit. But for the love of one of Laban’s daughters, Jacob worked for him fourteen years. He stayed on another six years, establishing his own family and wealth, though sometimes still by conniving means. (Read the story of Jacob in Genesis chapters 25, 27–35.)
Finally, God told Jacob to return to his relatives back in Canaan, promising His presence and kindness. Jacob gathered his wives, children, servants, and flocks, and began the long trip home. Toward the end of their journey, at night and alone, Jacob was attacked by a man. The two wrestled all night. Jacob discovered that the man was none other than God, Himself, in human form, for He supernaturally put Jacob’s hip out of joint just by touching it. This was the turning point—Jacob realized it was useless to struggle against Almighty God. Instead, he became bold in faith, pleading for His blessing.
The Man answered Jacob’s request by asking something He already knew—his name. By stating his name, Jacob both revealed and confessed his nature as a deceiver and yielded in reverence to Him. This was the radical life change Jacob needed to become the father of a great nation. The Man declared that his name would now be Israel, which means “God fights.” Because of the patriarch’s stubbornness and pride, God had chosen to fight against him. In love and mercy, God had met Jacob face to face without destroying him, and Jacob recognized this (Genesis 32:30). Now God would fight for Israel, the person and the nation, and would overcome their enemies as long as they honored and obeyed Him.
Like Jacob, we need to recognize that our self-sufficiency, pride, and other destructive traits are incompatible with the work of God. God wants our total allegiance, and just as He chose Jacob, He lovingly chooses to use us in His work.
The apostle Paul declared, “We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:9b, 10). Do those we live and work with see our love for people because of our God? Do they witness our joy in knowing Him? What we say about our Lord will have little impact if we don’t show a caring spirit. And people admire Christians who display joy, especially through difficulties.
In his book, Just Like Jesus, Max Lucado asks, “Wouldn’t you love to look back on your life and know you had done what you were called to do?” 1 The author suggests that “by answering four simple questions, we can be more like Jesus; we can stay on course with our lives.” 2 Here are the questions:
1) Am I fitting into God’s plan?
The author is referring to God’s ultimate plan—salvation for all mankind. He states
“. . . you are intended to contribute to the good plan of God, to tell others about the God who loves them and longs to bring them home.” 3
2) What are my longings?
Mr. Lucado explains: “When we submit to God’s plans, we can trust our desires. Our assignment is found at the intersection of God’s plan and our pleasures. What do you love to do? What brings you joy? What gives you a sense of satisfaction?” 4 He adds that we should consider our skills along with our desires, thus moving us on to the third question.
3) What are my abilities?
Max urges, “Identify your strengths, and then—this is important—major in them . . . Failing to focus on our strengths may prevent us from accomplishing the unique tasks God has called us to do.” 5
4) Am I serving God now?
The author suggests we should do what Jesus did—He served God at home through loving and helping His family, and then also sacrificially served others in His ministry. We imitate Jesus when we willingly serve others with a loving attitude. 6
These four questions form an acrostic: the first letter of the last word of each spells PLAN. Mr. Lucado adds, “God allows you to start fresh at any point in life . . .
Regardless of what has controlled you in the past, it’s never too late to get your life on course and be part of God’s P.L.A.N.” 7
It’s time to stand out as followers of Christ. To put Him first in our finances, activities, relationships, in every area of our lives. To determine what He is calling us to do with our lives now. To find our joy and strength in Jesus, not in people or accomplishments. To make needed changes in our lives with God’s help.
When have we been most on fire for the Lord?
What do we need to fuel that fire again?
Let’s not wait for God to give us new names. Let’s choose to burn brighter now!
1 Max Lucado, Just Like Jesus, Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1998), 92.
2 Ibid, p. 94.
3 Ibid, p. 95.
4 Ibid, p. 95.
5 Ibid, pp. 96, 97.
6 Ibid, pp. 97, 98.
7 Ibid, p. 99.
The following are samples of available materials for helping believers share Jesus and the gift of salvation with others:
ReIgnite, an online course with videos, worksheets, and Bible-based studies. From the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. ReIgnite will encourage you to reignite your passion for evangelism and will train you to share Jesus with others.
People Sharing Jesus: A Natural, Sensitive Approach to Helping Others Know Christ, by Darrell W. Robinson. This is a book that includes inspiring stories and reality-based techniques on sharing Jesus with others.
I Am Second “is a movement meant to inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others. . . . it is designed to help people discover their purpose in life.” Includes videos/films, questions to guide discussion, available online chat and blog, e-mail, phone contact.
More from Max Lucado is available at www.maxlucado.com.