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Prayer 117: MudWrestling Mommas

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Offering

Psalm 41:1 NIV84
Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble.
As Christians we are called to care for the poor and weak.
Institutionalized compassion can quickly become the least transformational form of Christian compassion. In fact, it risks losing its mission altogether without a vigilant effort to keep Christ and His Kingdom central to the activities.
On the other hand, personal acts of kindness and generosity are the most powerful and transformational expressions of Christian compassion. It is always more powerful when help comes from a person than a program.
As a Church we have a benevolence program and are committed to giving a portion of our monthly income to the poor. But I want to encourage each of you to guard your hearts and keep your compassion alive. When you see a person in need, see them as Jesus, for Jesus said, when you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto me.
I want to Thank Chuck for the work he has done in designing our new Giving Envelopes and Guest cards. We hope to install new Communion cup holders on each row soon to make it more convenient for you to access the giving envelopes.
I do want to clarify one thing about our new giving envelopes though. Last year when Pastor Calvin was here, he strongly recommended to us that we add the legal disclaimer you can now read at the bottom of the envelopes. We really wrestled with this, but felt it wise to heed Pastor Calvin’s counsel.
Read the statement.
Let me clarify why we put this statement on here. In no way does it mean that we plan to reallocate designated funds. In fact, just the opposite. We have gone to great lengths in revising our accounting system to track every designated penny and to put it where it belongs. Especially as it relates to missions, but also across the board. You can ask any of our board members, and they will tell you that we are tracking our designated funds carefully and endeavoring as best we can to put every penny where it belongs.
The only reason we put that statement on the new envelopes is because it is an IRS requirement. We would not even be able to move tithe funds to pay for Sunday School Materials, or to support the youth department, etc. if we did not have this statement on our envelopes. I don’t personally like the statement, but Pastor Calvin instructed me that because it is an IRS requirement to every reallocate any funds, we would be well served to include it on our giving envelopes.

Mudwrestling Mommas

I don’t know about you, but that title is a terrible mental image.
Genesis 30:1–24 NIV84
When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?” Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my maidservant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and that through her I too can build a family.” So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her, and she became pregnant and bore him a son. Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.” Because of this she named him Dan. Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. Then Rachel said, “I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won.” So she named him Naphtali. When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her maidservant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. Then Leah said, “What good fortune!” So she named him Gad. Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. Then Leah said, “How happy I am! The women will call me happy.” So she named him Asher. During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?” “Very well,” Rachel said, “he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.” So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. “You must sleep with me,” she said. “I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he slept with her that night. God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son. Then Leah said, “God has rewarded me for giving my maidservant to my husband.” So she named him Issachar. Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. Then Leah said, “God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun. Some time later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah. Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” She named him Joseph, and said, “May the Lord add to me another son.”

What one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace.

Abraham and Sarah tolerated Abraham having a child through Hagar. Now Jacob, Leah and Rachel embrace this practice.

2 Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?”

3 Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.”

4 So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her, 5 and she became pregnant and bore him a son. 6 Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.” Because of this she named him Dan. i

7 Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8 Then Rachel said, “I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won.” So she named him Naphtali. l

Pride Strives To Provide For Self

Rachel fails to pray and instead of trusting God and depending on God, she devises her own plan to get children- give her servant to her husband.
It works. You can see pride seep in as she names her son Naphtali, which means struggle, declaring:
“I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won.”
Love suffers when pride prevails.
Competition springs up when pride is present.
Marriage and childbirth are reduced to means of control and competition.
As long as pride thrives, grace dies. As pride dies, grace can thrive.
My pride leads me to conclude I have done well by my own efforts, and therefore I expect others to do the same.
When they fail I become unwilling to extend grace. At the same time, when I fail I can no longer be honest about my failures, because that erodes the foundation of my pride- my belief that I have done well in my own strength. Therefore I either become driven to perform better or dishonest about my performance- or both. Either way, the grace I have failed to extend to others I too am now deprived of.
Humility acknowledges my own failures and imperfections, and depends on God's grace to survive day by day. And that same grace I have received, I am now prepared to offer others- because there is an abundant supply of it flowing into my heart from the Father.
As long as pride thrives, grace dies. As pride dies, grace can thrive.
God later remembers Rachel, but one has to wonder if she might have born children sooner if she had relied on prayer and not her own scheming.

Prayer Trusts God to Provide

Genesis 30:17 NIV84
God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son.
Leah is wounded by her rejection. She knows Jacob loves Rachel more. So she seeks to earn Jacob’s love through childbirth.
Your heart has to go out to Leah. She is forced on a husband that does not love her by a father who views her as little more than property to be traded for profit. She finds herself the neglected wife in a vicious love triangle, competing with her sister for their husbands love.
This is such an open matter of dispute in the family that when her first son is born she names him Reuben, which means “See, a son” saying Because the Lord has looked on my affliction, for now my husband will love me.
She names her second son Simeon, which means heard, saying “God has heard I am hated.”
She names her 3rd son Levi meaning attached, saying “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have born him 3 sons.”
Trying to earn someone’s love is never a good idea. If they do not love you for you, they will never really love you for what you do.
But finally Leah turns her heart away from competing with Rachel and trying to earn Jacob’s love to giving glory to God when she names her 4th son Judah.
And it is through Judah that God promises the Messiah will one day be born. So what we see is this: Praise prepares the way for Jesus.
Someone said: When you enter His presence with praise, He enters your circumstances with power.
As long as pride thrives, grace dies. As pride dies, grace can thrive.
My pride leads me to conclude I have done well by my own efforts, and therefore I expect others to do the same.
In her pain, Leah turns more and more towards the Lord. She depends on God. This is the essence of humility: recognizing we cannot fix our problems and we need God’s help.
When they fail I become unwilling to extend grace. At the same time, when I fail I can no longer be honest about my failures, because that erodes the foundation of my pride- my belief that I have done well in my own strength. Therefore I either become driven to perform better or dishonest about my performance- or both. Either way, the grace I have failed to extend to others I too am now deprived of.
Humility acknowledges my own failures and imperfections, and depends on God's grace to survive day by day. And that same grace I have received, I am now prepared to offer others- because there is an abundant supply of it flowing into my heart from the Father.
As long as pride thrives, grace dies. As pride dies, grace can thrive.
Humility declares, "I am not the savior. I cannot do it all. God never intended for me to do it all." And it can then rest, restore and return for even more effective service.
Pride says, "I am the only one. It all depends on me. I cannot rest, I must work more, work harder."
Pride often cleverly disguises itself as dedication, but it is not. Dedication to the Lord leaves us humble and dependent on him.
Pride leaves us dedicated to our own ambitions, dependent on ourself and quickly depleted with no time to rest, restore or commune with the Lord.
Moses turned aside from shepherding when he sensed the presence of God. He saw a bush that burned, but did not burn up. The fire of human ambition has a limited supply and will soon burn out. The fire of divine purpose has a limitless supply and will burn but not be consumed because God is the source.
Turn aside today and hear the heart of God. What he calls you to do can only be accomplished in His strength. Moses could have never sent the plagues, parted the sea or fed the people in the wilderness. And he did not need to. He simply needed to trust, abide and obey. Let's do the same.
Leah’s humility prompts her to cry out to God and God hears and answers. The Word says God remembers hers. Prayer prompts God remember us. Not that He has ever forgotten us, but it prompts Him to remember our request and to answer it.

Praise Opens The Door To God To Enter Your Problem

Leah finally gives up on winning Jacob’s love and turns her focus to the Lord. And this changes everything. Literally. Not just in her life. But in all of our lives. It changes the whole world. I am sure she never imagined what an impact it made when she set her heart to seek the Lord and give Him the Glory in her life. Let’s read.

Jacob’s Children

31 When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32 And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the LORD has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.” 33 She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the LORD has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon. 34 Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi. 35 And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing.

Note the progression in Leah’s life:
Reuben: See, a son. She is bragging about her accomplishment.
Simeon: God heard I was mistreated.
Levi: Attached- now my husband will be attached to me, love me.
But it does not happen.
So Leah turns to God to meet her need for love, affection, affirmation and she names her 4th son Judah- Praise.
At some point Leah turns her heart away from competing with Rachel and trying to earn Jacob’s love to giving glory to God when she names her 4th son Judah.
And it is through Judah, through Praise, that God promises the Messiah will one day be born. So what we see is this: Praise prepares the way for Jesus.
Psalm
Psalm 50:23 NIV84
He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”
Praising God prepares the way for His salvation to be revealed, and Jesus is that salvation.
Someone said it this way:

When you enter His presence with praise, He enters your circumstances with power.

Genesis 30:22–24 NIV84
Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” She named him Joseph, and said, “May the Lord add to me another son.”
God was always able. God was always willing. But as long as Rachel schemed and strived to get children on her own- God waited.
It would seem perhaps that by this time Rachel’s servant has stopped having children. Her plans have stopped working. There has to be an end to our self-will and self-lead efforts.

While we work, God waits. When we wait on God, He works!

It would seem perhaps that Rachel came to the place where she ceased in her striving. For the word says, God remembered Rachel and gave her a child.
God waits while we work. God remembers when we rest.
Is there any area of your life that you are striving to fix, an area that you have not entrusted to the Lord? An area where pride is trying to claim the glory.
If so, let me encourage you to stop, trust God, ask for His help and wait patiently for Him to do what you cannot do. He is good. He is able. He loves you and wants what is best.
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