Good Morning and Happy New Year!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. (Hebrews 10:23)
One day when Isaac was old and turning blind, he called for Esau, his older son, and said, “My son.”
“Yes, Father?” Esau replied.
“I am an old man now,” Isaac said, “and I don’t know when I may die. Take your bow and a quiver full of arrows, and go out into the open country to hunt some wild game for me.  Prepare my favorite dish, and bring it here for me to eat. Then I will pronounce the blessing that belongs to you, my firstborn son, before I die.”
But Rebekah, Isaac’s wife overheard what Isaac had said to his son Esau. So when Esau left to hunt for the wild game, she said to her son Jacob, “Listen. I overheard your father say to Esau, I’ll use them to prepare your father’s favorite dish.  Then take the food to your father so he can eat it and bless you before he dies.”   She covered his arms and the smooth part of his neck with the skin of the young goats.  Then she gave Jacob the delicious meal, including freshly baked bread.    (It is one really non-functioning family.   Rebekah wanted for her son Jacob to be blessed instead of the oldest son, Esau, who was loved by her husband, Isaac.)

Isaac said to Jacob, “Come closer so I can touch you and make sure that you really are Esau.” So Jacob went closer to his father, and Isaac touched him.  When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he was finally convinced, and he blessed his son. He said, “Ah! The smell of my son is like the smell of the outdoors, which the LORD has blessed!   Then Isaac gave all of his blessings to Jacob, while he thought he were blessings Esau, Jacob’s older brother.
Soon Esau came back, and Esau realized that Jacob deceived his father and got all his blessings instead.  Esau hated Jacob because their father had given Jacob the blessing. And Esau began to scheme: “I will soon be mourning my father’s death. Then I will kill my brother, Jacob.”   Jacob found he could not stay home anymore.  He had to leave his home, and headed for his uncle, Laban with the help of his mother, Rebekah.   He was on journey to Haran, where his uncle lived.  The sun was setting, and he was alone.   He found a place to spend the night.   He looked back what he did, which was a really terrible thing that a person should not do to his brother – deceiving his father to get the blessing of his older brother, Esau.   Now, he was in a desolate place, and alone in darkness.   He located a stone and then rested his head to beg a sleep.   For Jacob, who was always taken cared by his mother, it was a really difficult, long and lonely night.   However, Jacob knew it was all caused by his greed.   His mind was filled with guilt of his past of his wrongdoing to his brother and father, and fear of uncertain future.  He was not sure about whether he could arrive at his uncle’s house safely first, and what would really happen when he actually arrived at his uncle’s house: whether his uncle and family would really welcome him and treat him well or not. 
The merciful God did not let Jacob alone.   God shorten Jacob’s struggle.  It did not continue long.  He suddenly fell in a deep sleep.  Soon God gave him a dream.   Jacob saw a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway.
At the top of the stairway stood the LORD, and he said, “I am the LORD, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants.  Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”

God came to Jacob, who was weary, exhausted, and filled with guilt and fear of uncertain future.   Then God blessed Jacob!    In fact, God blessed Jacob not because Jacob a righteous man, but God loved Jacob.   Most  of us would asy Jacob should not be blessed, but be punished for his wrongdoing – the sin against his older brother and his father.  However, God blessed Jacob.   Bible also tells, In the words of the Scriptures, “I loved Jacob, but I rejected Esau.” (Romans 9:13)   God did love Jacob, and did reject Esau.  Why?  Was Jacob more righteous than Esau?   Apparently, it was not.   Based on what had happened, we can easily say Jacob was worse than Esau.   Even so, God blessed Jacob.  Yes, what God did to Jacob should be a mystery to many of us.   However, this is an excellent opportunity to truly know about God, i.e., who God really is.
1.       God is merciful and full of love
Yes, Jacob was not a good person, who deceived his brother and his father.   We don’t have to prove this.  Jacob, due to his sin, had to leave his home, and he was ended up lonely in a desolate place in darkness.   A severe hardship found Jacob, and Jacob was surrounded by fear and his uncertain future.   He was truly helpless.   However, God was carefully watching over Jacob.  God knew Jacob was suffering and desperate.   God could not stand still anymore.  God came to Jacob, and comforted him.  God even lavishly blessed him. 
We believe God, who came to Jacob, when Jacob was lonely and in fear of his uncertain future.   The same God will find you and me when we are in trouble, lonely, desperate, because God is merciful and full of love.   Jacob was not worthy to receive God’s blessing, but God did.   The same God will bless you and me even though we are not worthy to receive his blessings.  Why?  God is love, and full of mercy.  
2.       God is faithful and never changes
God never forgets His promise to His children.   God promised His blessings to Abraham, Jacob’s grandfather, and Abraham’s descendants.   Did Jacob always remember the promised of God given to his grandfather, Abraham, and lived out his life worthy of the God’s promise?   Absolutely not!   Please see what Jacob did.   Jacob was not worthy of receiving God’s promise and the blessing given to Abraham.   Even so, God came to Jacob and blessed Jacob according to His promise given to Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham.  Once God promised His blessing, He keeps His promise regardless whether His children sinned or not.  This is a really profound nature of God, Our Ever-Loving Father.    This is another mystery to many of us.
One day, as Jesus was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”   
When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”  (John 8:11b)
Our God is merciful and full of love.  As the people around the woman caught in the act of adultery, we are all sinners, which we easily forget.   Even so, God is always faithful to His children regardless whether we are worthy of His blessings or not.   Again, is there a single person without sin?    If God only loves a righteous and sinless person, then nobody would be qualified for his blessing and love.   In fact, God loves you and me although we are sinners before God and other people.   Yes, God loves us not because we are sinless, but because simply we are His children.  This is the biggest blessing given to all of us by God.
But to all who believed him [Jesus] and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)

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