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Message from the Monthly Flyer January 2018

Turning points

I Samuel 7:12 – BSB – Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far the LORD has helped us."

Romans 12:2 – BSB – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

I think we all can look back at a point in our lives where everything changed. Maybe it was powerful and astonishing, accompanied by dramatic demonstrations of the importance of the moment. Or, perhaps it was more subtle, just a shift in direction that eventually led you to a whole new world. Either way, when you ask yourself how you got to where you are now, you can trace it all back to that hour. That was a turning point. This passage in Genesis 35 was, in my opinion, the most pivotal turning point in Jacob's life. It's why he built a pillar. I think he learned this practice from his father and grandfather. Whenever something happened that was life changing, these men built memorials. They were usually altars, so that they could honor God with a sacrifice. Then, from that point on, whenever they passed by for generations to come, they never forgot what happened there.

So what happened here at this pillar? The Lord God changed Jacob's name. He was no more Jacob, the liar, the deceiver, the supplanter; he was now Israel, the one who had wrestled with God and come out changed. This wasn't his first encounter with God, nor would it be his last. However, this was what he wanted to remember. So why now? Before, his relationship with God was secondary to his personal will and desires. He served God, and God, in turn, blessed him. However, after this night, Jacob's direction had shifted. He didn't just have a new name, he had a new attitude. We know it's true because once he returned to his family, he went through his household and destroyed every idol. Heretofore, everyone had simply served the God of Abraham alongside all of their own household gods. Now, Jacob will allow this no more. Even their clothes had to be cleaned, so that none of their influence remained. This reflected the drastic change inside of Jacob. No more the influence of this world, he had decided. Then, he built a pillar so that he would never forget.

Philosophers had debated for generations if it is possible for a person to truly change; to reset their course and leave behind their old ways. This month is January, and the world is full of people resolving to change their lives for the better but they will be back to their old habits by February. It seems like change is a hopeless cause. However, while I am no philosopher, there is one thing I have come to believe. A turning point is possible if you are willing to lay down your will, wants, and desires and cling to Jesus just like Jacob did. It begins at a holy place just like Bethel where you and God meet together. Then, you don't let go until your direction changes. You'll know it's real, because you'll start digging out all those old gods that you thought were so precious and casting them away. It’s called repentance and it’s available today, if you are looking for a change. ah

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صيادي الناس

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