Get Out of Town

God's Story For My LifeDay 28: Read today’s devotional on Bible Gateway.

Genesis 31:1-42

God tells Jacob to return to his homeland. But when Laban finds the idols missing from his home, he chases down Jacob and his wives.

Get Out of Town

Read

So Jacob put his wives and children on camels, and he drove all his livestock in front of him. He packed all the belongings he had acquired in Paddan-aram and set out for the land of Canaan, where his father, Isaac, lived. At the time they left, Laban was some distance away, shearing his sheep. Rachel stole her father’s household idols and took them with her.
(Genesis 31:17-19)

Reflect

While Jacob was living with his father-in-law, he always did more than was expected of him. When his flocks were attacked, he took the losses rather than splitting them with Laban. He worked hard even after several pay cuts. His diligence eventually paid off; his flocks began to multiply.

Leaving home was not difficult for Rachel and Leah because their father had treated them as poorly as he had treated Jacob. According to custom, they were supposed to receive the benefits of the dowry Jacob paid for them, which was fourteen years of hard work. When Laban did not give them what was rightfully theirs, they knew they would never inherit anything from their father. Thus, they wholeheartedly approved of Jacob’s plan to take the wealth he had gained and leave.

Jacob certainly had a complicated relationship with his in-laws. Even though Jacob manipulated the breeding of the flocks (Genesis 30:37-43) and snuck away with his family while Laban was gone (Genesis 31:17-19), Jacob was nevertheless a hard worker who brought wealth to his dishonest father-in-law. More importantly, Jacob was beginning to realize that whatever blessings he received were the gift of God, who was watching over him in the midst of his family turmoil.

Respond

Some of life’s most challenging relationships can be with family members. What relative do you have a complicated relationship with? Ask God to show you what you can do to honor him and that person.

Breakfast with Jesus

Breakfast with Jesus

by Alli Worthington, from her book The Year of Living Happy

Jesus is there

Peter is my favorite disciple because of how obviously flawed and human he is. (Man, can I relate to Peter!) After he denied knowing Jesus three times, he was completely (and pretty understandably) devastated. Believing his time as a disciple was over, he returned to his previous way of life as a fisherman. (Isn’t that like all of us? When we feel lost, we return so quickly to our old ways. But even when we do, God continues to come after us!)

As Peter sat in his boat, along with the other disciples, he felt lost. Not only had he failed to come to the aid of Jesus when He needed him most, now Peter couldn’t even catch fish! He’d been fishing all night and had nothing to show for it.

Then from the shore, a man tells them to cast their net to the other side of the boat. They did cast their net on the other side of the boat and caught 153 fish.

John, who was with Peter on the boat, announced it was the Lord on the shore, and Peter leapt into the water to find his way back to Jesus.

Peter didn’t stay stuck in his own failures on that boat. He wasn’t going to waste another minute finding his way back into Jesus’ arms.

By the time Peter reached Jesus on the shore, I’m sure he expected Jesus to let him have it. Instead, he found Jesus ready to receive him back into His grace — and with a hot breakfast to top it off!

How often do we do this in our own lives? We are so quick to replace the grace-filled words of Jesus with the condemnation we feel we should get for our mistakes. We forget that because of Jesus there is no longer any condemnation left for us! Jesus received our punishment so we could instead receive His love. Romans 8:1 affirms this for us:

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Jesus is there to receive us back from our mistakes. He stands on the shore ready to love us!

Think about an occasion when you spent time beating yourself up over a mistake. Now imagine what Jesus would say to you. Write yourself a letter from Him in which He tells you how He feels about you. Remember, just like with Peter, Jesus isn’t there to condemn you but to love you.

Excerpted with permission from The Year of Living Happy by Alli Worthington, copyright Alli Worthington.

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Your Turn

When was the last time you left a failure behind and leapt after Jesus? You don’t have to be devastated anymore. Jesus is waiting for you with open arms and delicious grace! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you about having breakfast with Jesus! ~ Devotionals Daily

Get Past Your Past

Greg Laurie
Tuesday, December 31, 2019

LISTEN  

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.”

—Philippians 3:13

I heard about an interesting New Year’s Eve custom in Italy. As evening approaches, the streets are cleared and even the police take cover. Then at the stroke of midnight, the windows of the houses fly open, and every member of the family pitches out a whole catalog of personal possessions that remind them of something in the past year they’re determined to wipe out of their minds.

The apostle Paul recognized the importance of putting the past behind him as well. He said, “I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13 NLT).

We cannot live in the past. We cannot be controlled by past mistakes or live in past victories. So if you have blown it in past year, learn from it. And don’t do it anymore. Make changes in your behavior, in your habits, and in your choices to avoid going down that road again. Learn from your mistakes.

At the same time, don’t live in past victories. If God did something wonderful in your life in the last year, be thankful for that. But a new year is before you with many new opportunities. So press on for what God has for you.

Paul continued, “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (verse 14 NLT). If you’re a runner, you know there is pain involved in running a race, especially if you’re running a marathon. After a while, it is hard to move one foot in front of the other.

In the same way, the Christian life is not a cake walk. It’s a battle. Paul was saying, “I’m straining to move forward.” These words are for every follower of Jesus Christ. So press on toward what God has for you.

Unsinkable YouVersion Devotional

Beautiful Balance
By Pastor Dan Hickling
“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”—John 4:24 (NKJV)

Balance is beautiful. When you observe something that’s perfectly balanced, there’s a strong internal sense that says yes, this is how things are supposed to be. And when you see it not happening . . . well, anyone who’s learned to ride a bicycle can complete this thought.

Jesus unveils a beautiful balance concerning both God’s nature and our relationship with Him in the passage above. In context, Jesus is speaking to a Samaritan woman of questionable reputation. And yet, that doesn’t stop Him from divulging a deep divine truth to her. He reveals to her that God, specifically referring to His Father, “is Spirit.” In other words, God is immaterial and not limited to physical properties. He is transcendent and unbound by this world. 

But then Jesus goes on to tell her that He must be worshipped “in spirit and truth.” Here’s where we begin to see a beautiful balance as it relates to God’s nature.

The word used for “spirit” is the same word used to describe God but refers here to the spiritual nature He has placed inside of us. It’s the part of our being that is immaterial, transcendent, and unbound by the constraints of this world. It is quite literally otherworldly and supernatural. This divinely given dynamic within us is how we connect to, interact with, and worship God. It is personal and subjective.

But this is counterbalanced by “truth,” which means there are facts and realities relating to God. We don’t invent or determine who He is. Certain things are true of Him, things which He’s revealed to us in His Word. These things define our understanding and worship of Him. They reveal a definitive and objective aspect of His nature, as well as our worship.

Do you see the beauty in this balance? God is above the natural world, and so is our relationship with Him. It’s spirit based! But God has also revealed certain truths about Himself, truths that define and govern our relationship with Him. It’s truth based! Together, we enjoy a spiritual vitality with God rooted in the realities concerning Him. 

DIG: What two aspects of God’s nature did Jesus reveal to us here? 

DISCOVER: What do each represent?

DO: Think about ways your relationship with God be more balanced.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

<< Your Daily Prayer

A Prayer to Keep God First This New Year – Your Daily Prayer – December 31

  • 2019Dec 31
  • COMMENTS15

Prayer to Keep God First This New Year
By Debbie McDaniel

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Cor. 5:17

Dear God,

Thank you that you make all things new. Thank you for all that you’ve allowed into our lives this past year, the good along with the hard things, which have reminded us how much we need you and rely on your presence filling us every single day.

We pray for your Spirit to lead us each step of this New Year. We ask that you will guide our decisions and turn our hearts to deeply desire you above all else. We ask that you will open doors needing to be opened and close the ones needing to be shut tight. We ask that you would help us release our grip on the things to which you’ve said “no,” “not yet,” or “wait.” We ask for help to pursue you first, above every dream and desire you’ve put within our hearts.

We ask for your wisdom, for your strength and power to be constantly present within us. We pray you would make us strong and courageous for the road ahead. Give us ability beyond what we feel able, let your gifts flow freely through us, so that you would be honored by our lives, and others would be drawn to you.

We pray that you’d keep us far from the snares and traps of temptations. That you would whisper in our ear when we need to run, and whisper in our heart when we need to stand our ground.

We pray for your protection over our families and friends. We ask for your hand to cover us and keep us distanced from the evil intent of the enemy; that you would be a barrier to surround us, that we’d be safe in your hands. We pray that you would give us discernment and insight beyond our years, to understand your will, hear your voice, and know your ways.

We ask that you would keep our footsteps firm, on solid ground, helping us to be consistent and faithful. Give us supernatural endurance to stay the course, not swerving to the right or to the left, or being too easily distracted by other things that would seek to call us away from a close walk with you.

Forgive us for the times we have worked so hard to be self-sufficient, forgetting our need for you, living independent of your spirit. Forgive us for letting fear and worry control our minds, and for allowing pride and selfishness wreak havoc over our lives. Forgive us for not following your ways and for living distant from your presence.

We confess our need for you… fresh… new… again. We ask that you make all things new, in our hearts, in our minds, in our lives, for this coming year. We pray for your refreshing over us.

Keep your words of truth planted firm within us, help us to keep focused on what is pure and right, give us the power to be obedient to your word. And when the enemy reminds us where we have been, hissing his lies and attacks our way, we trust that your voice speaks louder and stronger, as you remind us we are safe with you and your purposes and plans will not fail. We ask that you will be our defense and rear guard, keeping our way clear, removing the obstacles, and covering the pitfalls. Lord, lead us on your level ground.

We ask that you would provide for our needs, we ask for your grace and favor. We pray for your blessings to cover us, we pray that you would help us to prosper and make every plan that you have birthed in our heart to succeed. We pray that others would take notice of your goodness and could not help but to say, “These are the ones that the Lord has blessed.”

Help us to be known as great givers, help us to be generous and kind, help us to look to the needs of others and not be consumed by only our own. May we be lovers of truth, may the fruits of your spirit be evident in our lives – your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Shine your light in us, through us, over us. May we make a difference in this world, for your glory and purposes. Set you way before us. May all your plans succeed. We may reflect your peace and hope to a world that so desperately needs your presence and healing.

To you be glory and honor, in this New Year, and forever.

In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Editor’s Note: Content taken from the article, A Prayer to Keep God First This New Year: 12 Verses of Renewal, written by Debbie McDaniel. You can read that piece in full here. All rights reserved.