Series: Grounded in Love
Message: Our Center
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jenniffer Ogden
Live Beyond: Andrew Jones
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Ephesians 6:10-20 in the New Living Translation (NLT). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
There is a struggle that all of us will have to go through at some point.
Jacob was at the end of his rope and probably thinking he was at the end of his life too. He had been a bad boy. One of the most dangerous things he did was to dupe his brother out of the family birthright. This is a naughty thing to do for sure, but it borders on the stupid when you realize Jacob’s brother was really good with a bow and arrow. Jacob’s only weapons were a spatula and a mixing bowl.
Jacob was alone the night before he would see his brother for the first time since the deception. He knew his fate. His brother would kill him and take his family and his possessions. He deserved it. He knew he had become a horrible person. He fit the name given him—Jacob—translated as deceiver/supplanter.
And then there was a struggle. An all-night struggle. Life and death seemingly on the line. The struggle ended when Jacob realized who he was dealing with and stopped the wrestling match. His desperation turned into a holding on, a grasping for a blessing. He begged the supernatural Hulk Hogan to bless him before he left. The blessing came in the form of a new name. He would no longer be known as “deceiver” but (many Hebrew scholars translate) Prince of God.
Every one of us has to struggle with God to receive our true identity. It’s a come-to-Jesus meeting that we all have to endure.
When we find ourselves in a struggle with other people about other things, we are fighting the wrong battle. All the arguing, all the politics, all the positioning for power, all of it, is the wrong battle. Our battle, as Paul reminds us, is not against those things.
The devil is an identity thief. He wants us to see ourselves in ways that are inaccurate. He wants us pay attention to things that don’t matter. He wants us to call ourselves by the names that our family, our church, and our society have pinned on us. Unworthy, unattractive, incapable, undesirable, angry, uninspired, lazy, fat, skinny, white, black, brown, gay, straight, weird—you can fill in the label. These kinds of names don’t come from the Father. They come from the pit of hell. And none of them are on your birth certificate.
Jesus looks at you and me and smiles. He declares, “This is my son. This is my daughter. I’m well pleased with them.” The book of Revelation says that overcomers like you and me get a new name, one that only we can know. This new name is worth the struggle. Just ask Jacob!
Recalibrate: If you could change your name, or had to for some weird reason, and you could choose a descriptive word that you’d like to be known by, what word would you choose for your name?
Respond: Ask Jesus to make known the name He has given you.
Research: Read the story of Jacob getting a name change in Genesis 32.
Remember: “Pray with all kinds of prayers, and ask for everything you need” (Ephesians 6:18, ICB).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor for the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon. He is a regular contributor to the Daily Walk.
Make a big love heart on a mirror or a window where your child can see themselves in the heart. Talk with your little one about how we can pray to Jesus anywhere. Tell them that for this week, this place in the heart is our special prayer place and that at any time we can come and pray here. Know that when we pray our prayers go straight to the heart of God.
I love Nutella. I have jars of it at home. I like it on bagels and bread and carrots (yep, I know, it sound weird). I will eat it for breakfast and lunch and dinner and snacks. I am also not a teenager anymore—so I have to be careful about what I eat. I don’t run around as much as I used to and what I eat can make me gain weight quickly. While I love Nutella, it isn’t good for me to eat all the time. God helps me discover how to live with what I love, but in a healthy way. Today, prepare a food you love and share it with a friend. Tell them how God has helped you choose what to love and how to live with it in a healthy way.
If you were to get me a gift, you couldn’t go wrong with getting me a Lego set. Big or small, Technic or Duplo, I honestly don’t care. Whenever it was my birthday or Christmas as a kid, my family didn’t even need to ask what I wanted because the answer was always the same: Lego. God is kind of the same way; He knows what we want even before we ask for it. He knows what we need even before we do. This isn’t a reason to stop asking Him for what we want and need though. God loves to hear from us. He loves to hear what we want, how our day was, what our worries are, or what we want to eat for dinner. God just wants us to talk to Him.
I am assuming that because you are a human being who lives on this earth, you have had a conflict with at least one person in your life. Maybe not a full on fist fight, but at least a disagreement or incident where people didn’t treat you well. And if you haven’t, well, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but your time is coming. Last year I ran into conflict with one particular person. I don’t usually butt heads with people but for some reason this time I did. Now, mind you, I’m not the most perfect person ever, but for some reason I could never do anything right according to this person. One day I came across this verse: “The struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of darkness.” After I read these words, I realized that my problem was not with this person, but against a deeper power. The person was simply struggling with something deep down inside. As soon as I recognized this I began to pray for this person and I noticed how God began to change my attitude toward them. We tend to completely write off the people who offend us or don’t treat us right. But the conflict we are facing is not with them but against the forces of evil. I challenge you to pray for them and ask that God will fill you with love towards them. Loving people who love us back is easy and makes sense. However, God also calls us to love those who have wronged us. Who is someone you are in conflict with right now? Take some time to pray for them and ask that God will open your eyes to see them as a child of God.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development groups. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jenniffer Ogden serves as the children and family pastor at the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Washington.
Andrew Jones teaches grades seven and eight at Vista Ridge Academy in Erie, Colorado. He is originally from Oregon and attends Boulder Church.
Emily Ellis is a junior studying theology at Walla Walla University and interning at the Eastgate Seventh-day Adventist Church.