“Early in the morning Jacob took the stone that was near his head and set it up as a marker. He poured oil on top of it and named the place Bethel…Then Jacob made a vow: ‘If God will be with me and watch over me on this journey, if He provides me with food to eat and clothing to wear, and if I return safely to my father’s house, then the Lord will be my God. This stone that I have set up as a marker will be God’s house, and I will give to You a tenth of all that You give me'” (Genesis 28:18-22, HCSB).
Jacob was on a journey to Haran and at the end of one of the days during his journey he stopped and camped outdoors.
That night God appeared to Jacob in a dream of a stairway that started from where he was and reached to heaven. Angels were ascending and descending the stairway. In the dream God transferred to Jacob all the essential elements of the covenant He had established with his grandfather and father, Abraham and Isaac.
“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven…Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you” (Matthew 6:1, 4, NLT).
When we practice the spiritual disciplines of giving, praying, and fasting we are cultivating a quality of life that helps us develop an authentic relationship with God.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit…I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.” (John 15:1-2,5, HCSB).
These verses contain the last of seven “I am” declarations made by Jesus in John’s Gospel. “I am” is an allusion to God’s name by which God identified Himself to the Israelites: “God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14).
“Then David inquired of the Lord: ‘Should I go to war against the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?’ The Lord replied to David, ‘Go, for I will certainly hand the Philistines over to you.’ So David went to Baal-perazim and defeated them there and said, ‘Like a bursting flood, the Lord has burst out against my enemies before me.’ Therefore, he named that place the Lord Bursts Out. The Philistines abandoned their idols there, and David and his men carried them off.” (2 Samuel 5:19-21, HCSB).
Have you ever had an emotional outburst caused by stress or anger or even joy? In the stories of King David recounted in 2 Samuel 5 and 6, we see this sort of behavior displayed by God.
“Come, let us all go to Gilgal to renew the kingdom. So they all went to Gilgal, and in a solemn ceremony before the Lord they made Saul king” (1 Samuel 11:14-15,NLT).
Saul was the first king of Israel. He was the son of a wealthy landowner and became king unexpectedly and rather reluctantly.