Ministry Resources

Keep Moving Forward

Author: Howard W. Stevens

Have you ever felt like giving up on God?

Or have you already done so? God understands why you feel that way. He loves you where you are, and He can redeem everything you give Him and bring good out of it. Even if you have walked away from Him and turned your back on Him, He still loves you.

If anyone had a reason to turn his back on God, Jacob did.

His parents named him Jacob, which means ‘he deceives’ (Genesis 25:26). He came from a very dysfunctional family: Jacob’s father favored his twin brother, Esau, while his mother favored Jacob.

Jacob and Esau struggled with each other even within their mother’s womb. God said that two nations were within Rebekah’s womb; one would be stronger than the other, and the older would serve the younger (vv. 22–23).

After Jacob and Esau grew up, Jacob tricked his father into giving him the blessing that belonged to Esau. Jacob had to leave home because his brother hated him and planned to kill him (27:41). So, Jacob went to live with his uncle, who used him and deceived him (31:36–41).

Later, he had an encounter with God that left him with a permanent limp (32:24–31).

His daughter, Dinah, was raped, and his sons took revenge and killed all the men in town (34:1–30). So, Jacob had to leave town quickly before the surrounding inhabitants discovered what his sons had done.

“Focus on God!”

After all these tragedies, challenges, and setbacks, Jacob could have turned his back on God, but he chose to go forward. God directed him to return to Bethel, to settle there and build an altar to worship Him (35:1). Jacob commanded his household and all who were with him to get rid of their idols, purify themselves, and worship with him at the altar. God responded by causing terror to fall on the inhabitants of the surrounding towns so that no one pursued Jacob (v. 5).

God also appeared to Jacob and reaffirmed His promises to him. “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel” (vv. 9–10, NIV). God said, “The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you” (v. 12, NIV).

What can we learn from Jacob’s example and God’s response to him?

1. No matter what happens, don’t look back. You can’t go forward if you keep looking in your rear–view mirror. If you have turned away from God or given up on Him, ask Him to forgive you right now. Then, accept His forgiveness and trust Him to help you go on.

2. Focus on God, not on your surroundings. No matter what your situation currently is, things can quickly change. Even if everything looks negative or discouraging, God can still give you His peace and joy as you trust Him and let Him work in your circumstances.

3. Cling to the Lord with fervent love. He is the only source of stability and the only Person who can sustain, guide, and empower you. Read God’s Word, and ask Him to help you apply it to your life each day. Whatever God tells you to do, do it. Just as He guided and strengthened Jacob, He will sustain you. And remember, He always keeps His promises.

© Howard W. Stevens

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