Our God can Change Us! - January 2022

by Pastor Pete Panitzke on January 13, 2022

Do you have patterns of behavior that you wish you could change? Perhaps...

  • When you get stressed, you get angry.
  • You can’t sleep at night because you worry about so many things.
  • You hold grudges against those who hurt you.
  • Addictive behaviors  

We all have these patterns. When you become aware of them, Satan is there to whisper in your ear, “You will never change. Get used to it. You will always lose.”
 
Let Jacob’s miracle give you hope!
 
One word summarizes Jacob’s life: “deceiver.” In fact, even his name means “deceiver.” He deceived his brother Esau. He deceived his father to get the blessing. He deceived his father-in-law Laban in our reading for today (Genesis 31-32).
 
The Holy Spirit worked a change in Jacob. In Genesis 32:22-32, he spends the night wrestling in prayer with the LORD. To commemorate that miraculous change, the LORD changes his name from Jacob, the deceiver, to Israel, the one who wrestles with God.
 
God’s ability to change us is evident in our New Testament reading as well (Matthew 9:27-10:15). As Jesus carried out his ministry, he often met people who were demon-possessed. In today’s reading, he again casts out demons.
 
He who has the power to cast out demons can also silence the devil’s accusation, “You will never change.” In fact, you see Jesus' power to change us in two of the disciples. Matthew was a tax collector – synonymous with a cheat in that culture. Simon was a Zealot, consumed by politics and interested in the violent overthrow of the government. Both men were changed into shepherds, focused not on money and politics, but on the harassed and helpless “sheep" (Matthew 9:36). 

I’m always amazed as I read Paul’s letters that he mentions he is praying for his brothers and sisters in Christ, even though he was separated from them by many miles and it had been months since he had seen them. He couldn't possibly know each person who would read his letter by name. He couldn't possibly know exactly what challenges they were facing that day. Yet they were united in prayer. 

In the spirit of Paul and Jacob at the Jabbok, I join with you in wrestling in prayer this morning. I don't know what lies Satan is whispering in your ears. I don't know what changes you would like to make in your life. But we share a common Savior who has the ability to change us and knows exactly how to answer our prayers, so I join with you in prayer:

“Have mercy on us, Son of David!” Lord Jesus, I rejoice in each of my brothers and sisters who is reading this. As you worked powerfully in them to bring them to faith in you as their Savior, work powerfully in them and change them more and more into your image and likeness. Silence Satan's lies. Give them confidence in your mighty power in their lives. Let your compassion for the harassed and helpless be our compassion. Let your patient love be our patient love. Make each of us an answer to prayer, another worker in your harvest field, leading everyone in our area of influence into a closer relationship with you. Amen. 

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