“Above All Else”

When you see children that are stubborn then think back on where you came from. We were stubborn children but somehow God reached us and changed us and kept us to this day. Remember where you came from when dealing with difficult children so that you may pray aright that God may reach them and change them too.

The devil knows what God wants to reach through your life and therefore does his uttermost to keep you away from God.

Genesis 32

22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions.

24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.

Jacob was blessed by God. God said in Mal 1:3, “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated”. Why? It’s frightening just to read it and to think, what does God say about your and my life? But if you carefully consider it you realise that God was right.

Esau despised what God had prepared for him. For him his birthright didn’t mean much.

God, through Christ dying for us on the Cross, prepared a birthright for us.

God knew what the heart of Esau would be like. He was a person that was hungry to go outside in nature and be free and eat well. He loved it. He was always out in the wild. He loved what he did, because it made him feel like a free, independent man. But he was like that because of his heart where God’s word wasn’t important to him.

These days many young people are the same with the same heart. They crave for the things in the world and spend hours on the internet and cellphones to find something new and exciting.

It’s not wrong to have a computer, but your heart can make it wrong. Because you look at things and desire things you know that you should not even look at.

Yes the outside world has an attraction and if your heart is wrong that attraction becomes strong and overwhelms you.

Remember that the devil came to destroy. He wants to destroy that which is good in your life. He wants you to lose what God has done for you and what God wants to do for and through you.

Esau lost what God had in store for him, because he regarded his freedom and independence of greater importance than God’s words and promises.

The Bible says in James 4:4, “friendship with the world means enmity against God”. In that way Esau was an enemy of God for he loved and desired the things of this world.

It’s so easy to despise something. Maybe your negative comments about God’s work or his servants shows your heart that you actually despise God’s treasures.

Jacob was different. There was something in his life that God loved. It’s not that he was better than others. He made many mistakes. Jacob sought after God and God’s blessing. He made mistakes, but he loved God.

Do you really love God? Is your heart yearning for God and His blessing or are your own ambitions predominant?

Jacob held God’s promises and blessing in high esteem. He respected God’s promise. He knew that he cannot live without God and His blessing. He had his eye on eternal things and realised that whatever he did would be worthless unless God blessed it.

In German there’s the saying, “everything depends on God’s grace and blessing”.

Jacob knew that He needed God’s blessing. He knew God blessed his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac and he sought after that blessing with everything he had.

This is the secret. Guard it. Seek Him with all of your life, heart and strength. Hold God and His blessing in high esteem.

Others made light of God and His blessing but Jacob knew that that was what he wanted and he would not go without it, whatever the cost.

If you want God’s blessing, one of the ways is to stay close to those whom God had blessed. The crumbs of God’s blessing might fall off the table onto you.

Listen to what Peter says about these promises God has for us.

2 Peter 1

4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature…

If we want to be a blessing to this country we live in then it is this blessing we need in our own lives first. Apply God’s promises personally to your own life.

Doubt was a great problem to me. I doubted that God’s word applied to me personally.

It’s so much easier to believe a doubt, than to trust and hang on to what God has said.

God has given us these precious promises so that we can be saved and kept from the evil of this world.

Jacob had to meet up with his brother Esau. For him it meant danger and even death. He knew how his brother hated him. For many years they haven’t met. But God knew what He was doing. Jacob knew he couldn’t meet up with this situation if God wasn’t on his side and with him. And God started dealing with his life.

In the same way, God uses everyday things in our lives to draw us closer to Him.

God knew He had to put Jacob in a corner to reach His goal with him. God engineered the situation and He got the result He wanted. Jacob knew that to face the situation he would need God’s grace.

Yes, it is sometimes difficult what God puts us through, but we must look at ourselves that God reaches His purpose with us in that situation. Don’t look at the situation or the person God uses, but at yourself and your relationship with Him.

There was once a young priest. He was always getting irritated and had a temper. One day he went for advice. The older priest listened to him and then prayed, “Lord you’ve heard this young priest and all his problems and you see what his heart is like and how he reacts. But I pray Lord that you will send this young man problems in the morning, through the day give him those difficulties and in the evening.” The young man couldn’t contain himself and stopped him in mid prayer. “No you’re praying wrong. It’s the problems that cause me to react the way I do”. The older man replied, “young man you will only learn patience and your heart will only be purified if you meet up with these things in your life and overcome them”.

It’s not the situation and circumstances that cause us to sin, but our heart. We must learn to overcome in whatever situation we find ourselves.

I often prayed for that blessing Jacob received. But in these days it dawned on me, all that I have and that pertains to me must be on the other side and I must be alone with God.

Jesus Christ sent the disciples over the sea alone. He wasn’t there and they faced the storm. They knew how to handle a storm for they grew up with boats. But they realised they couldn’t handle it without Christ. As they were having difficulty in the storm Christ appeared on the scene and they thought He was a ghost. But when Christ got into the boat the sea became calm.

It teaches us how dependent we are on Him.

The Bible says “don’t lean on your own understanding”. We know it, but when we meet up with a difficult situation we go our own ways and lean on our own understanding.

It can be that you meet up with so many storms in your life and you row and try yourself and struggle in stead of letting Christ in your boat and let Him take control of your life.

Maybe He won’t come in the way you think He will come, but He will come if you ask Him.

They didn’t jump overboard when they were in the storm but cried to Christ and He calmed the sea. They still had to row to the other side, but it was with a difference.

We will meet up with difficulties and suffering. But those things teach us to understand God’s ways. He wants us to overcome.

What helped Jacob was that he sent everything over to meet with God alone.

In this battle it won’t help us to try to fight in our own strength. We need God to be with us in every situation.

Jacob started with his own family. That’s maybe where he knew the problem lay. There was so much noise around him and he knew he needed God and had to be alone with God.

One of the biggest problems in your life could be your own family – that you always seek everything for your own family and nobody can say anything about your child or else you are up in arms in your heart and maybe even say it. Maybe you blame all the other children but not your own child.

When you put your children in front of a video, do you put them right in front or far away? Do the children talk or fight or cry? No they sit still for maybe an hour or more.

But if you take them to church, where do you put them, in front or at the back? And maybe there are even complaints that the service is too long, or the bench is too hard.

I grow peppers and I know what’s good for those plants. I try my best to give them what’s best for them. If the plants do not grow well and I don’t know what to do, I ask for advice from experts.

Do you know what’s best for your children, and do you apply it? Do you go for advice when your children do not follow the Lord? There are certain things in life we have to do. If you don’t breathe you’ll die. And so spiritually there are certain things you must be busy with or die.

If you’re continually spiritually exhausted, there are certain things that’s consuming your spiritual strength. You know what it is and you must rectify that and deal with it.

Jacob wrestled with God when it was darkest in his life. He overcame and then it was light for the rest of his life, for he met with God and God blessed him.

Whatever situation you meet up with, take it and be alone with God.

The Lord taught us that in everything we do we pray. We can blame everyone else because of the situation we find ourselves in, but God brings it across our life so that we can bring it to Him and He can bring a blessing out of it if we give it to Him and wrestle with Him and seek Him.

The angel asked him his name and when he answered “Jacob”, he realised who he really was. God could even change his name.

When God comes He will change your life. But as long as you always see mistakes in others you probably only see in others what is in your own heart.

What helped Jacob was that he stood up and realised that he needed God and he took everything important in his life and sent them over to be alone with God. Jacob from that day became another man. Why? He sought God and His blessing. He sought that God be with him.

That is the secret that God be with us. Whatever you do, seek first that God be in it.

Arno Stegen added the following at the end:

There are many people and many Christians like Esau.

Esau only saw what was before him. He lived for the moment. He wanted immediate satisfaction. He was very short sighted. He was hungry and wanted food immediately.

That’s how many people live. They only look at what they want immediately and so act accordingly.

Jacob had a different outlook altogether. When he was faced with a difficult situation he didn’t only look at the present situation but looked much further, even at eternity. He was like his grandfather, seeking an eternal city and not a city in this world.

Abraham should also be our spiritual father. May we have that attitude in everything we face that we have eternity in mind.

When Jacob was in that situation where his brother came and demanded food. He didn’t react like many of us would, “no I cooked this food and it’s mine.” (Then we become just as short sighted as Esau and start fighting about the food.) Jacob was clearly thinking of the eternal blessing God promised to Abraham and his father Isaac while preparing the food. The choices he made and the long term decisions he made were always in accordance with this vision.

May we have Jacob’s heart. He wanted his father’s blessing but above it he wanted God’s blessing.

May God help us to make the right choices, not according to our immediate need or satisfaction, but based on eternal values. Whatever we do may we have eternity in mind. Then we will make wise decisions.