Proverbs 4:14-15 tells us,”… don’t follow the path of evildoers. Don’t even think about it; don’t go that way. Turn away and keep moving.” A little later in Proverbs 4:23 it adds, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” The message is pretty clear―when it comes to evil doers… stop, go back, turn around, NOOOOO! We call it, “overcoming temptation.” Do you have something that you struggle with? In these Proverbs we are told, “Don’t even think about it,” and “Guard your heart.” So, how does this help us? We are taught to determine ahead of time how we will respond to temptation, but if, instead, you’re asking yourself, “Hmmm, I wonder if that would be fun?”, then you might get into a mess. Stop it. Don’t even think about it. Put a wall around your heart―a “no-I-don’t-do-that” wall. Do you have something you struggle with? Decide now how you will respond, when faced with it the next time. Guard your heart. Make your decision ahead of time. This way, when the situation arises, you will already have determined your successful outcome.
In Luke 2 we find the story of Joseph and Mary bringing the baby Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised. At the Temple is an 84-year-old widow named Anna, who is a prophetess in the Temple of God. When she sees the baby, she begins to speak to the people about the coming redemption of Jerusalem. So here is a woman, ministering in the Temple of God. She was installed there by God, as a prophetess. She was destined to do this thing―to recognize baby Jesus for who He truly was. Praise God she was ministering there! How many people missed who Jesus was? Many people, both men and women, who met and heard Jesus didn’t believe. Anna may be the first human preacher of the Gospel, in the generation who actually saw Jesus. What’s my point? God had a woman at church ministering to the people as a prophet―she was preaching Jesus. This is props for all the women believers. Anna is a story showing us that God wants your voice in the house, too. Remember that God has poured out His spirit on men and women, and that in Christ there is neither male nor female. Go ladies!
In Genesis 32 Jacob wrestles all night with someone he believes is God―they actually wrestle. The idea of wrestling with God isn’t new; most of us have wrestled with God before. We wrestle with Him when we don’t want to do something or, sometimes, when we want to do something that we shouldn’t. Sometimes we wrestle with God trying to get Him to do something, like Jacob, who says in Genesis 32:26, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Here’s the weird part though… Jacob already had the blessing. He got it from his dad, twice, and then again at Bethel in a dream. So why is Jacob still wrestling to get something he already has? We do this. God has already given us everything we need to win. He has blessed us and given us righteousness, the promises, the inheritance, His Spirit and power, and the Word of God, so what are we waiting for? Well, like Jacob, we still wrestle with God to get something we’ve already been given by the power of Jesus’ name. Satan was defeated at the cross, and you are blessed. God is smiling and pleased with you―He wants you to win―and He loves you in every way imaginable.
In Genesis 32:13 Jacob prepares a gift for his twin brother, Esau. Big deal right? Well, actually, it is. These two haven’t seen each other in twenty years, and the last time they talked, Esau wanted to kill him. Esau is bigger, a hunter, and stronger. They haven’t emailed or “instagrammed,” and Esau hasn’t apologized. He hasn’t sent a note saying, “Hey, let’s work this out.” And Jacob isn’t saying, “Let’s sit down and talk out our differences.” Jacob simply wants to be reconciled with his brother. So he prepares a gift worth about $50k, in hopes that his brother will forgive him. Now, had Jacob wronged Esau? Well, not really. He did what his mom told him to do and what God had destined. Still, Esau was mad, and that was enough. Jacob was giving to an enemy. He was blessing someone who was persecuting him. Checkmate. Most of us would send an angry message, you know, “Hey, if anyone should be mad it’s me!” But Jacob put Esau above his own desire to be right. He loved Esau in the same way that God loves us. God gave to us, while we were still sinning. This is how a Christian wins in life. “It” never fails. We call it love.