Go Back to “Bethel”

God met with Jacob at Bethel when he was still a needy person. And now that Jacob is already full to the brim, God commanded him to go back to Bethel.

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Bethel is the place where Jacob first encountered the Lord. It was the place where he was given a dream and a promise. The place was originally called Luz, but Jacob renamed it Bethel because for him, it is where God resides – “house of God”. It was a special place, a refuge, a safe haven.

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Jacob landed on Bethel as he was fleeing from the wrath of his brother Esau whom he deceived. He was so broken then, fearful, helpless and without anything to go on living. But it was during that most trying time, when everything has been stripped away from him, that God made him a promise – “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

And in response, Jacob promised:

“If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”

A few years passed and God has been faithful to His part of the promise. Jacob’s wealth has increased tremendously and he became a father to a huge household. Moreover, he has once again earned the trust and the forgiveness of his brother Esau. And true enough, God has brought him back to Bethel, with all of God’s promises fulfilled!

God met with Jacob at Bethel when he was still a needy person. And now that Jacob is already full to the brim, God commanded him to go back to Bethel. It is as if God wants him to look back on how things went in his life. God wants him to go back to his first altar, to where his faith begun.

Surprisingly for Jacob, he demanded his household to purify themselves and to give him their pagan idols to be buried in the ground. And as Jacob went to worship the Lord in Bethel, God once again confirmed His promises – and for the second time Jacob was blessed with the name Israel – a name change signifying that he is no longer identified with his past sins and mistakes.

If you are a Christian, like Jacob, we all have our “Bethel” where we first encountered the Lord. Our Bethel can be a place or even a person. While we all know that God is everywhere, Bethel is a special because you know you commune closer with God there.

Are you in a moment of loss and despair? Why not go back to your Bethel and take refuge there? If life’s anxieties has brought you to your knees, rest your case to God and find relief in Him. Or perhaps everything in your life is going well right now. Still, God will be pleased to meet you at Bethel. It doesn’t matter whatever season you are in, Bethel is where the God of the universe meets with the vulnerable you.

As you return to Bethel, think of the things you might need to bury: your pains? Your regrets? Maybe your achievements? Anything that takes off your focus from God can be a pagan idol that might need to be buried on the ground.

Go back to Bethel. God is waiting for you there. He will gladly refresh you with His promises to never leave you, and will remind you that you are no longer the same fearful, broken and helpless person you used to be. You are no longer “Jacob”, but “Israel”.

 

How my song became part of a soundtrack

He has filled my heart with joy even when trials arise for His assurance of salvation is always available.

I’m not kidding when I say that my song is included on a soundtrack.

I’m no singer and how I wish I can sing well. If only my vocal prowess is that of Brian McKnight’s or one of the voices of Boyz II Men, I will not hesitate joining our worship leading team. I will also make sure I’ll be part of every musical production I know. Moreover, I will give voice to every poem that I write. Perhaps when God poured out heavenly voice towards His people, I was still sleeping (of which I’m very skilled). Since then, the only time I sing (or should I say squeak) in public is when I teach Sunday school kids. At least with them as my audience, my voice receives appreciation.

But again I’m not kidding when I say that my song is included on a soundtrack. My song – the song of the redeemed.

Soundtrack

God must love music so much. Surrounded by angelic hosts singing His praises and glory all eternity long, no wonder God is pleased with music. But I believe God’s love for music crosses through songs and audible voice. He listens as we pour out our heart to Him. It is music to His ears. And there is no greater privilege than having God listen to a music that comes from a grateful and believing heart.

His redemptive act cost Him His life only to prove how much valuable I am to Him even though I cannot reach the highest note of “On Bended Knees”. He redeemed me for who He is and not on what I can or cannot do, otherwise I’ll never get saved. It is all by His grace.

Before I became a Christian, my life is defined by fear of the unknown. The Bible says that “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks”. I worry a lot. No blessing gets counted, only what is lacking. But when I came to know Christ, a paradigm shift took place. I’m not saying that everything’s perfect now that I became a Christian but my point is, something significant happened – that is my redemption. Jesus has redeemed me from the worries of this life, from the insecurities this world offer, and from the crippling fear of the unknown. His redemptive act cost Him His life only to prove how much valuable I am to Him even though I cannot reach the highest note of “On Bended Knees”. He redeemed me for who He is and not on what I can or cannot do, otherwise I’ll never get saved. It is all by His grace. The only thing He asks me is to believe on what He did on the cross for my sins and to put my faith in Him for my everyday concerns.

Jesus is now my savior and friend. He has filled my heart with hope that whatever happens, He loves me and will carry me through. He has filled my heart with joy even when trials arise for His assurance of salvation is always available. He is present in every circumstance I’m in. He fills my heart with His unfailing love. And out of the overflow of my heart, “I sing”. It may not sound like McKnight’s, but with gratitude I’m singing “my song” the best way I can – with my life. Many a times I fail as I sing this “song of the redeemed”, but God is very patient as an audience. He knows that I can never score 100 in His divine videoke (sad to say, even in an earthly videoke) but He still promises to listen. He says:

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13

Even angels, with their heavenly voice, can’t beat me as I sing “my song”, for only those who have experienced Jesus’ redemption, only those who have passed from darkness to light can sing this song from the heart. This song can be your song too! Accept Him now as your Lord and Savior and let Him include your “life-song” on His heavenly soundtrack.