Genesis 48:1-2 Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.
Remember the Rocky movies? Good old Rocky Balboa was the comeback king. He just about lost every fight, it seems, but would come in at the last minute for the knockout punch. There he was bloody and bruised, beaten to a pulp. He could hardly stand and he certainly couldn’t see well. The match was essentially over; he was to be the loser. But wait… what’s this!? Rocky is getting up on his feet. Against all odds, he musters up the strength to rally. He hits his opponent with a jab, then another. Here comes the 8 punch combo – knockout!
Rocky is a movie. Rocky is an unrealistic movie. But we all loved it! We love the come from behind victory. We love the bad acting and cries for Adrian. Over and over again, Rocky rallied and we cheered. When I read Genesis 48 today, I cheered a little on the inside, too. You see, Jacob was sick; he had no strength. He was weak, tired, and all together not well. But when his son came by with his sons, he rallied. He mustered up enough strength to sit up and bless his grandchildren. Why? Because it was worth working up the strength for. This moment mattered and regardless of how he felt, he was going to make it happen.
I’ve come to realize that even though we are weak and tired sometimes, God has given us the ability to rally. He has put within us that same champion “Rocky” spirit. When we find a cause worth fighting for, we fight… regardless of how tired we may be. But so often we default to losing hope, being depressed, and giving up. We have got to rally! There is a strength within us that God wants us to activate. So get your Rocky on today. Rally your strength and fight!
*Where are the places you are giving up? Ask God to give you the strength to get up like Jacob did.
Hosea 5:11 Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgment, for he is determined to follow what is worthless.
I try not to sin. Even amidst the failure, I am pretty determined not to. It’s not because I think it is yucky or that it will cause me to go to hell. It’s not because I am trying to follow a bunch of rules. I genuinely want to please the Lord with my life. So I try. I fail, but I try. And there are those times that it seems like we fail over and over again. Do you ever experience that? You know – you just blow it day after day. So we try harder not to mess up and focus on not doing bad stuff. But it doesn’t work.
Recently, I was staying at a campground that had lots of rules. I swear the word “no” was on a hundred signs. No running, no diving, no riding bikes here and there, no kids in this pool, no tents on these sites, no, no, no, no, no. You know what that does? It focuses me on the word no. I was thinking about all the things I couldn’t do rather than the things I could. Later in that trip, we visited a waterpark. I noticed that their signs were different. They said things like, “please stack your tubes when you leave the lazy river.” They focused on what you should do rather than what you shouldn’t. It was a happy place.
Living life as a train wreck is no fun. But you won’t pull out of it if you continue to focus on what you shouldn’t be doing. You will just fail over and over again. And to God, it will seem as though you are determined to follow what is worthless. Friends, that is determination in the wrong direction. Now we all know that you probably aren’t determined to sin, but apparently that is what it looks like to God. What you need to do is turn your determination in a different direction.
If you don’t, you will end up trying to walk forward while looking backward. Have you ever tried that? You will inevitably crash into a telephone pole. So turn your head around and start walking away from sin. Determine to do right things. Determine to please God with your thoughts, your actions, your life. Determine to point your determination in the right direction. Start focusing your thoughts on what you should be doing rather than what you shouldn’t.