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Scripture reading – Genesis 31

Note – This devotion is the second of a two-part devotion for today’s Scripture reading (Genesis 30 and 31).

Genesis 31 – Going Home

Jacob’s growing success and wealth provoked jealousy in Laban’s household (31:1). A reflection of His favor, God had so blessed Jacob that Laban’s household was becoming impoverished (31:1b). Jacob also observed a change in Laban’s countenance and that his spirit was no longer “toward him” as it previously had been (31:2).

The LORD confirmed to Jacob that it was time to depart and said, “Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee” (31:3).

As a summation of today’s lengthy devotion, I suggest you consider four spiritual principles demonstrated in Jacob’s decision to go home. These might serve you well as guideposts to knowing and following God’s will.

Desire is the first guidepost to knowing God’s will. Six years before Genesis 31, Jacob wanted to leave Laban’s household and “go unto [his] own place, and to [his] country” (30:25). Though the timing was not right, the desire was there and would be fulfilled after six years.

Regarding the will of the LORD, and one’s desire, the psalmist wrote, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. {5} Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 47:4-5). But, of course, it would be unwise to trust solely in the desires and longings of your heart (Jeremiah 17:9-10).

The second guidepost to knowing God’s will was circumstances (31:1-2). Jacob’s relationship with his father-in-law and his sons (his wives’ brothers) was strained and irreparable. They were envious, and Laban’s countenance betrayed his spirit toward Jacob (31:1, 7, 41). The heart of the man was set against Jacob.

A third and essential guidepost to knowing and doing the will of the LORD is His Word! Jacob’s desire to go home and the tense circumstances surrounding his in-laws were undoubtedly a strong motivation to depart. For Jacob, God’s will was confirmed when the LORD spoke to him and said, “Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee” (31:3). The psalmist observed, Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). When the LORD spoke to Jacob, he knew it was time to go home.

The fourth and final guidepost for deciding God’s will is wise counsel. Jacob went to his wives and shared his observation that their father’s spirit toward him had changed (31:5-12). He told them how the LORD had commanded him to “arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred” (31:13). His wives concurred and said to Jacob, “whatsoever God hath said unto thee, do” (31:16).

Closing thoughts – When making significant life changes, spiritual-minded men and women weigh the four principles we observed in Jacob’s life in Genesis 31. Before you make life-altering decisions, look for the “four guideposts” for determining God’s will.

1) Is your desire for change a righteous one? (Psalm 47:4-5)

2) Have your circumstances changed? (Genesis 31:1-2)

3) Are you looking to God’s Word as your guide? Are you reading, studying, and meditating in God’s Word as you seek to know and follow His will? (Psalm 119:105) Remember, “the steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD” (Psalm 37:23).

4) Have you sought wise and godly counsel in your decision? (Proverbs 11:14; 15:22)

One’s Desire, Circumstances, God’s Word, and Godly Counsel are essential to knowing and pursuing God’s will for your life. Like Jacob, your path in life will have spiritual crossroads, but you can be sure He wants nothing less than His best for you. In the words of Solomon, you can:

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. {6} In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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