READ: Genesis 31-33
THINK: Have you ever felt cheated? How did you respond? Did you get mad? Did you get even? Or did you follow Jesus' instructions and return good for evil (John 6:27)? We're all aware that life isn't always fair. Still, it hurts when we don't get what we feel we deserve. But though you can't control how others treat you, you can control your attitude and response to personal injustice. Rather than expending your best energies retaliating for wrongs and trying to get your dues, why not put your most intense passions into pursuing God and His purposes for your life? If you're going to be persistent about anything, be relentless in developing a deeper relationship with God-and leave justice and judgment to Him. In the end, you'll come out ahead and get far more than you deserve.
RESPOND: In what ways had Laban cheated Jacob over the years? How and why did God prosper Jacob through it all? What was Rachel attempting to do by stealing her father's idols? (See 31:19 note.) How did this act show a lack of faith and ultimately prove to be useless? What's wrong with trying to get what we deserve when cheated? What can happen when we take matters into our own hands rather than trusting God to settle the score? Why was Jacob fearful of Esau? Did he have reason to be afraid? Why or why not? How can we follow Jacob's example when we're afraid? (See 32:9 note.) Why was Jacob so desperate for God's blessing? Up to this time, how had he tried to secure God's blessing? Why do you think God allowed Jacob to prevail in his struggle, but also to suffer injury as a result? (See 32:24 note.) In what ways do people sometimes wrestle with God and His promises? What is the significance of God changing Jacob's name to Israel? (See 32:28 note.) What had Jacob learned about faith by the time he left Peniel? (See 32:29 note.) What can you learn about pursuing God and His purposes from Jacob's encounter? In what ways had Jacob and Esau matured since Jacob had fled from home? (See 33:4 note.)
PRAY: Ask God to give you patience and a heart of forgiveness toward anyone who has cheated or mistreated you. Express your trust in God to make things right in His own time. If you are facing any fears regarding a specific situation, give those fears to God and accept His peace instead.
ACT: Take an aggressive step toward a deeper relationship with God and a more intense pursuit of His purposes. Increase the personal time you spend in prayer and God's Word. Express more passion in worship. Speak more boldly about spiritual things. Give more to missions. Tactfully bring up spiritual issues in your conversations with non-Christians. Also, take specific action to settle any lingering tensions or troubles with other individuals.
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