‘The socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint.’ Genesis 32:25 NKJV
When you try to run from God, you keep running into Him at every turn. It happened to Jacob. He ran from his brother Esau’s anger, and when things got too hot in his father-in-law’s house, he ran from there too. Finally, when he could run no more, he ran into God at a place called Peniel. And it was there that his name was changed from Jacob, meaning ‘the deceiver’, to Israel, which means ‘a prince with God’. The Bible says: ‘Then Jacob was left alone, and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.” And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”’(Genesis 32:24–28 NKJV) When God dislocated Jacob’s hip, in essence, He was telling him, ‘Your running days are over, and your limp will be a constant reminder of your total dependence on Me.’ We all need a ‘Jacob experience’. Oswald Chambers said when God wants to use a man, ‘He hammers him and hurts him, and with mighty blows converts him.’ Everything Jacob needed, he found when he ran into the arms of God. The same is true for you.
‘See the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.’ Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT
Often life doesn’t go according to plan. A promotion doesn’t happen in time and your career plans get side-lined, or a relationship backfires and you spend every waking moment analyzing what went wrong. The secret to real peace lies in seeing ‘the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end’, and accepting that He works according to His own timetable. Have you ever tried unlocking the door to your house when you’re rushing, weighed down with packages, and the phone is ringing? It’s the right key, but it won’t work because you’re forcing it. Once you relax, the door opens with no problem. Counsellor Melody Beattie says: ‘Stop trying so hard. You’re sabotaging yourself. Once you decide a situation is good or bad, you put yourself in a position of having to do something about it. For example, if someone is “good” you start comparing yourself: am I better or worse? How do I need to improve? We’re exhausted before we begin! When the path is uphill—walk up the hill! When you have to go around an obstacle… go around it! Accept the path before you. The Bible says there’s “a proper time and procedure for every delight” (Ecclesiastes 8:6 NASB). Sometimes that means you don’t get what you want today, you get what you have today. Maybe something needs to happen first. Or there’s an important lesson God wants you to learn and you’re trying to avoid it. Or it’s just not time. Stop trying so hard to make things happen on your timetable. Do what you can do in peace, surrender the rest to God, and watch the “impossible” fall into place.’
‘Glorify God in your body.’ 1 Corinthians 6:20 NKJV
One pastor writes: ‘I stood on every healing Scripture in the Bible. Finally, I got so sick that I had to be rushed to the hospital. There they discovered I had five arteries completely blocked and scheduled me for a bypass surgery. When I came through it, I started questioning, “How could this have happened to me? I’m a pastor. I believe that God heals. I’ve prayed for others and watched Him heal them.” Then I remembered! I’d been warned repeatedly that my cholesterol and sugar levels were too high. I needed to change my diet, but I wouldn’t listen. I was addicted to fried foods and fatty foods. They were so tasty I couldn’t give them up.’
Jesus said the children of this world are wiser than the children of light (see Luke 16:8). The media and the medical establishment are warning us daily to eat more healthily, yet often the church is silent. Tobacco, alcohol, and drugs can kill you, but so can eating unhealthy food! Paul writes: ‘Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which is God’s.’ (1 Corinthians 6:19–20 NKJV) You have an assignment from God, and a responsibility to stay healthy and fulfill it. Your body is the temple in which He dwells, and the instrument He uses. So seek to ‘glorify God in your body’ each day.
‘You will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the right way.”‘ Isaiah 30:21 NCV
A counselor who was once an addict writes: ‘I was in treatment for chemical dependency and needed a job to get out. I looked for months, but nobody wanted to hire me. One day I was waiting for a bus when a little voice urged: “Look behind you.” I was standing next to an attorney’s office. “Go talk to the head of the firm and tell him you need a job,” were the words I heard. That’s crazy, I thought… but that “still, small voice” urged me on, so I obeyed. When I talked to the attorney and told him what was happening in my life, he understood because someone in his family was also recovering from addiction. Then he looked at me and said, “It’s funny you came in today. I was thinking about creating a position for a legal secretary and hadn’t gotten around to advertising.” Two weeks later I got the job, and it was better than any position I’d applied for. It paid more and made the best possible use of my skills.’ The problem isn’t that God no longer speaks to us; it’s that we don’t recognize His voice. Don’t be so quick to dismiss the random thoughts that cross your mind (see 1 Corinthians 2:16). Generally speaking, God won’t send a thunderbolt from Heaven to get your attention. More often He speaks through your thoughts, a family member, a friend, a teacher, a pastor, a change in your circumstances, the sudden discovery of the ‘perfect’ Scripture, the writing of a gifted author, or in the quietness when He fills your heart with perfect peace. So learn to listen to God’s voice.
‘The Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush.’ Exodus 3:2 NKJV
Moses lived on the backside of the desert for four decades: that’s over 21 million minutes! His life was defined by monotony until he had an epiphany. On a day that started out like the 14,600 days before, Moses spotted a burning bush out of the corner of his eye. Then he heard a voice from out of the bush calling his name. Sometimes God will surprise you! A burning bush is about as absurd as a talking donkey. Oh, wait, God did that too! One of the dangers inherent in walking with God for a long time is thinking that you’ve got Him figured out. We try to put Him in a box, but there’s no box big enough to contain Him. He says: ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’ (Isaiah 55:8–9 NKJV) Instead of drifting through life aimlessly and letting all your days run together, you need to get up each morning and pray: ‘Father, thank You for this new day. Give me fresh insights in Your Word that reveal new aspects of Your character so that I might do Your will and glorify You.’ Become more alert and aware; don’t miss what God has for you. Do what Moses did: ‘“This is amazing,” Moses said to himself, “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go and see it.”’ (Exodus 3:3 NLT) Today, try to ‘see’ what God is doing in your life!
‘If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ John 8:31–32 NKJV
Are you trying to overcome a bad habit? Jesus wants to set you free. ‘If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ You ask, ‘What is this “truth” that will make me free?’ Jesus answers in six words: ‘If you abide in My Word.’ Victory is gained in your mind, and maintained in your mind. One lady joked, ‘Giving up cigarettes is easy; I’ve done it thousands of times.’
Seriously, how can you stop going back to old habit patterns? By repenting of them, renouncing them, and replacing the old thoughts that lead us back to them with new thoughts. And where do these new thoughts come from? Jesus answers, ‘If you abide in My Word.’ This means staying out of places that foster wrong thoughts and away from people who encourage wrong thoughts. It may mean changing what you watch on television. You’ll notice that before you give in to a bad habit, you think the thoughts that lead to it. The Bible says, ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ (Romans 12:2 NKJV) In the early stages of recovery from any addiction it’s critical to saturate your mind daily in the Scriptures, pray, and be willing to reach for the support of a friend (see Ecclesiastes 4:9–10). Will you sometimes fail on your way to success? Yes. But victory begins when you decide to be free, and believe God will set you free.