“Sons of Jacob”

By “the sons of Jacob” are meant persons who enjoy peculiar rights and titles. Jacob had no rights by birth; but he soon acquired them. He changed a mess of pottage with his brother Esau, and thus gained the birthright. I do not justify the means; but he did also obtain the blessing, and so acquired peculiar rights. By the “sons of Jacob” are meant persons who have peculiar rights and titles. Unto them that believe, He hath given the right and power to become sons of God. They have an interest in the blood of Christ; they have a right to “enter in through the gates Into the city”; they have a title to eternal honours; they have a promise to everlasting glory; they have a right to call themselves sons of God. Oh! there are peculiar rights and privileges belonging to the “sons of Jacob.”

But these “sons of Jacob” were men of peculiar manifestations. Jacob had had peculiar manifestations from his God, and thus he was highly honoured. Once, at night-time, he lay down and slept; he had the hedges for his curtains, the sky for his canopy, a stone for his pillow, and the earth for his bed. Oh! then he had a peculiar manifestation. There was a ladder, and he saw the angels of God ascending and descending. He thus had a manifestation of Christ Jesus, as the ladder which reaches from earth to heaven, up and down which angels came to bring us mercies. Then what a manifestation there was at Mahanaim, when the angels of God met him; and again at Peniel, when he wrestled with God, and saw Him face to face. Those were peculiar manifestations; and this passage refers to those who, like Jacob, have had peculiar manifestations.

The sons of Jacob have had peculiar manifestations. They have talked with God as a man talketh with his friend; they have whispered in the ear of Jehovah; Christ hath been with them to sup with them, and they with Christ; and the Holy Spirit hath shone into their souls with such a mighty radiance, that they could not doubt about special manifestations. The “sons of Jacob” are the men who enjoy these manifestations.

Then, they are men of peculiar trials. Ah! poor Jacob! I should not choose Jacob’s lot if I had not the prospect of Jacob’s blessing; for a hard lot his was. He had to run away from his father’s house to Laban’s; and then that surly old Laban cheated him all the years he was there—cheated him of his wife, cheated him in his wages, cheated him in his flocks, and cheated him all through the story. By-and-bye he had to run away from Laban, who pursued him and overtook him. Next came Esau with four hundred men to cut him up root and branch. Then there was a season of prayer, and afterwards he wrestled, and had to go all his life with his thigh out of joint. But a little further on, Rachel, his dear beloved, died. Then his daughter Dinah is led astray, and the sons murder the Shechemites. Anon there is dear Joseph sold into Egypt, and a famine comes. Then Reuben goes up to his couch and pollutes it; Judah commits incest with his own daughter-in-law; and all his sons become a plague to him. At last Benjamin is taken away; and the old man, almost broken-hearted, cries, “Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away.” Never was man more tried than Jacob, all through the one sin of cheating his brother. All through his life God chastised him. But I believe there are many who can sympathize with dear old Jacob. They have had to pass through trials very much like his. Well, cross-bearers! God says, “I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” Poor tried souls! ye are not consumed because of the unchanging nature of your God. Now do not get fretting, and say, with the self-conceit of misery, “I am the man who hath seen affliction.” Why, “the Man of Sorrows” was afflicted more than you; Jesus was indeed a mourner. You only see the skirts of the garments of affliction. You never have trials like His. You do not understand what troubles mean; you have hardly sipped the cup of trouble; you have only had a drop or two, but Jesus drank the dregs. “Fear not,” saith God, “I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob,” men of peculiar trials, “are not consumed.”

Then, “sons of Jacob” are men of peculiar character; for though there were some things about Jacob’s character which we cannot commend, there are one or two things which God commends. There was Jacob’s faith, by which Jacob had his name written amongst the mighty worthies who obtained not the promises on earth, but shall obtain them in heaven. Are you men of faith, beloved? Do you know what it is to walk by faith, to live by faith, to get your temporary food by faith, to live on spiritual manna—all by faith? Is faith the rule of your life? if so, you are the “sons of Jacob.”

Then Jacob was a man of prayer—a man who wrestled, and groaned, and prayed. “Ah! you poor heathen, don’t you pray?” “No!” you say, “I never thought of such a thing; for years I have not prayed.” Well, I hope you may before you die. Live and die without prayer, and you will pray long enough when you get to hell. There is a woman: she was so busy sending her children to the Sunday-school, she had no time to pray. No time to pray? Had you time to dress? There is a time for every purpose under heaven, and if you had purposed to pray, you would have prayed. Sons of God cannot live without prayer. They are wrestling Jacobs. They are men in whom the Holy Ghost so works, that they can no more live without prayer than I can live without breathing. They must pray. Mark you, if you are living without prayer, you are living without Christ; and dying like that, your portion will be in the lake which burneth with fire. God redeem you, God rescue you from such a lot! But you who are “the sons of Jacob” take comfort, for God is immutable.

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May 16 | Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 24-25; John 5:1-24


Tell Me a Story

He did not say anything to them without using a parable.

Mark 4:34

READ MARK 4:26–34




Once upon a time. Those four words just might be among the most powerful in the entire world. Some of my earliest memories as a boy contain a variation on that potent phrase. My mother came home one day with a large, hardcover illustrated edition of biblical stories—My Good Shepherd Bible Story Book. Every evening before lights-out, my brother and I would sit expectantly as she read to us of a time long ago filled with interesting people and the God who loved them. Those stories became a lens for how we looked at the great big world.

The undisputed greatest storyteller ever? Jesus of Nazareth. He knew we all carry inside us an innate love for stories, so that was the medium He consistently used to communicate His good news: Once upon a time there was a man who scattered “seed on the ground” (Mark 4:26). Once upon a time there was “a mustard seed” (v. 31), and on and on. Mark’s gospel clearly indicates that Jesus used stories in His interactions with everyday people (v. 34) as a way to help them see the world more clearly and understand more thoroughly the God who loved them.

That’s wise to remember as we desire to share with others God’s good news of mercy and grace. The use of story is almost impossible to resist.

By John Blase


Jesus, You’re the Wonderful Counselor and the Great and Mighty God. Give us creativity in the ways in which we share Your love with a world that still slows down to hear a story.

How could you weave a story or parable into your conversations this week? Maybe something like, “Once upon a time, God answered my prayer in a surprising way . . . .”


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The word parable comes from the Greek words para and bolḗ, which mean “placing side by side.” Parables are illustrations taken from common things, or day-to-day life situations, which compare a known truth with an unknown truth. The four gospels contain more than forty parables.

Jesus often used the sower-seed metaphor to illustrate the kingdom of God. In Mark 4, Jesus taught three parables—the parables of the sower (vv. 3-20), the growing seed (vv. 26-29), and the mustard seed (vv. 30-33). The seed is the Word of God (v. 14; Luke 8:11). When planted on “good soil,” or the receptive heart (Mark 4:20; Matthew 13:23), the life-bearing seed grows steadily and produces grain without any human effort (Mark 4:28-29). This is the unseen work of God—a work of grace. Only God makes the seed grow (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). K. T. Sim

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3 Things You Never Knew About the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes—Superior, Erie, Michigan, Huron, and Ontario—are home to one-fifth of the freshwater surface on Earth. Formed 14,000 years ago, with coastlines stretching more than 10,000 miles, they feature a lot of liquid and beachfront real estate for locals, visitors, and international tourists. And while you might know their names and what you can do there, here are three things you probably didn’t know about The Great Lakes.

They’re Home to the Largest Freshwater Coastal Dune System in the World

Credit: RudyBalasko / iStock

Tourists and locals are drawn every year to the many coastal dunes surrounding the Great Lakes and for good reason. The Great Lakes are home to the largest freshwater coastal dune system in the world, and Lake Michigan alone is bordered by more than 275,000 square acres of dunes.

A number of national and state parks along the Lake Michigan coastline offer visitors a chance to enjoy the sun and adventure through the dunes. Many provide unique Great Lakes freshwater dunes opportunities—like breathtaking views and organized outings—not found anywhere else in the world.

Lake Superior Has A Shipwreck Museum and Historical Society

Credit: ehrlif / Shutterstock.com

Fishing, shipping, passenger transport, and recreation were all reasons for ships to traverse the waters of the Great Lakes over the last few centuries, and travel by water is inherently dangerous. Hundreds of ships of all shapes and sizes have sunk beneath the water in each of the five interconnected lakes.

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society in Paradise, Michigan, was first founded with a focus around Whitefish Point on Lake Superior. The organization has spent the last 40 years—in collaboration with its shipwreck museum and underwater research efforts—searching for and documenting sunken vessels during the diving season each year.

The Shipwreck Museum is open to the public from May 1 through October 31. Visitors can view exhibits, attend book signings, take part in fundraising fun runs, and explore shipwreck coasts on guided kayak treks.

Lake Michigan Had a Pirate Problem

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The waters of Lake Michigan are infamous for their 19th century pirate problem, during which a trio of swashbucklers terrorized its waters. The Great Lakes pirates were notorious for selling timber, stealing liquor, or being strangely pious, but most were more cap-and-sweater-wearing sea rogues than they were sword-wielding Jack Sparrows.

Jack Rackham, aka Calico Jack, is likely the Great Lakes pirate who people are most familiar with from fictionalized appearances in pop culture. He’s famous for his bright clothing and was known to steal fishing tackle and boats on Great Lakes waters. “King” James Jesse Strang led his religious gang, from Beaver Island on Lake Michigan, in the burning of sawmills and pillaging of goods from local stores during the mid-19th century.

Roaring Dan Seavey was the only man to be formally charged as a pirate on the Great Lakes. Once a U.S. Navy sailor, Seavey nefariously put up lights in dangerous places along Lake Michigan’s coastline to lure ships to fake coves and plundered the wreckage.

Both the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum (mentioned above) and Alpena Shipwreck Tours can pull back the curtain on pirate activity in the area and give visitors a tour of the old pirate stomping grounds.

Our body is the vessel for living toward our redemption


Human personality is not separable in our consciousness from the human body. And that fact is expressed by asserting the identityof the person as his or her body. This fact is what makes it necessary for us to make our bodies, through the disciplines for the spiritual life, our primary focus of effort in our part in the process of redemption.

The additional fact that we are unable to understand human behavior or society and culture using only chemical and mechanical principles indicates that this body of ours is no mere physical mechanism. As the physicist Schrodinger, once again, remarks: “From all we have learnt about the structure of living matter, we must be prepared to find it working in a manner that cannot be reduced to the ordinary laws of Physics.”

From The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives. Copyright © 1988 by Dallas Willard. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

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The Two Most-Asked Questions About Life After Death

What can we learn about the meaning of “life everlasting” from the Bible? Researchers discovered that often even Scripture readers struggle to understand what to expect in life after death. Here are answers to the two most asked questions on the topic.¹

What Happens to a Christian Between Death and the Day of Judgment?

The period between death and judgment, called the intermediate state, is not clearly explained in the Bible. However, Christians can find comfort from Jesus’ statement to the repentant thief on the cross — Today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43) — and from Paul’s confident assertion that to be away from the body [is to be] at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). The bodies of God’s children may sleep, but their souls do not. What this likely means is that even though our bodies and souls still exist in parallel tracks, our souls are united with God in a conscious state of constant communion and fellowship.

Jesus’ promise of paradise (Luke 23:43) suggests that the believer who dies is immediately in a place of delight and beauty reminiscent of the Garden of Eden. Paul had a vision in which he was caught up to paradise, where he heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell (2 Corinthians 12:4). Jesus’ parable in Luke 16:19 – 31 portrays a poor man who died and was immediately carried to heaven — to Abraham’s side — where he was comforted (Luke 16:22, 25).

The Bible does not explain what kind of body or external form believers will have during this intermediate state. We do know, however, that believers will not receive their new and final resurrected bodies until Christ returns (1 Corinthians 15:50 – 54).

What is Heaven Like?

Right now, heaven is the literal but unseen realm in which God reigns in unimaginable glory. Moses, Daniel, Ezekiel, Paul and John were all offered glimpses of this holy place. And we know that Christians who have died are with the Lord in paradise (Luke 23:43). They are in heaven, awaiting the second coming of Christ.

When Jesus Christ returns for his bride, the church, a new era of “heaven” will begin — what might be called “life after life after death” (N. T. Wright).

Revelation 21:1 — 22:5 captures the most complete description of this new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1). John saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband (Revelation 21:2). When Jesus promised in John 14:2 that he was going to prepare a place for his disciples, this Holy City is the place he was referring to.

This eternal home will truly be “heaven on earth,” for God will re-create his world as a great and beautiful city with streets, protecting walls, a life-giving river and the tree of life — all lit by the glory of God in his inexpressible beauty. The triune God himself will live in that city with his people. All sorrow will be gone. God’s children will worship him forever, accompanied by the angels. Believers will worship God with the great songs of heaven (Revelation 7:1015:2 – 419:1 – 3), by exploring God’s new creation and through the fellowship of the saints. Believers will reign with Christ and be responsible for governing various parts of God’s kingdom. It will be a bliss that never ends!

¹Content drawn from the “Top 100 Questions and Answers” in the NIV Quest Study Bible.


NIV Quest Study Bible

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May 16

Joel 2:28-29

28 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

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