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When Family Becomes An Idol (Part II of Rachel and Leah)

father-knows-bestWhat is the difference between cherishing our husband and children and making idols of them? We know both marriage and children are gifts from God and God absolutely delights in harmonious families (Psalm 133) Many of you are too young to know about “Father Knows Best,” but in many ways it did show the beauty of a harmonious family. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE WRONG WITH THAT?

Nothing. Families are God’s plan, God’s gift, and can reflect God’s beauty. Psalm 133 sings of the beauty of a harmonious family.

But even good things, when they become more important than God, when seen as the ultimate, can become sin. How clearly this can be seen in the lives of Leah and Rachel.

This is a challenging study, but this group is definitely up to it!

1. Read Genesis 29:21-30.

A. How is this incident a “deja vu” for the trickster Jacob? (See Genesis 27)

B. Put yourself in Leah’s place. How do you think she felt about her wedding night with Jacob? Did

Jacob murmur Rachel’s name?

C. How do you think she felt about Jacob’s response in the morning?

D. Tim Keller said, “When you long for Rachel (something other than God to fulfill you), you always  wake up with Leah.” Share a time when you were sure something would fulfill you, you got it, and you were disappointed.

2. Read Genesis 29:31-35.

A.Meditate on verse 31. What does this tell you about God and His mercy? What does this mean to you? (Don’t go too fast through this one.)

B. List the names Leah gave her children and how the fourth son shows a change in her heart.

Some of the godliest women I know have had hard marriages — unbelieving and difficult husbands. Like Leah, they woke up to realize that their hope was in God. And they pressed into Him, experiencing greater intimacy with Him.

C. Some of you have already seen that Judah was the son that was in the line to the Messiah. Comment on this.

3. Read Genesis 30

A. What was Rachel’s “Rachel?” (What did she think she had to have to be fulfilled?)

B. Meditate on the name of her second son. What are some wrong reasons for having children? What are right reasons?

C. How can you know if you are too enmeshed with your children? What are some red flags?

D. What are some signs that you have a healthy relationship with your children?

E. What are some red flags that a local church may have elevated the family over Christ?

F. How do you see God’s mercy with Leah? With Rachel? What does this mean to you?

5. Meditate on Luke 14:25-27.

A. Is there a paraphrase or translation that helps you with this hard saying? If so, share it.

B. What do you think Jesus means by this?

C. How might this apply to your life?

6. Explain the difference between cherishing your husband and children and making idols of them. If you get this right, in practical ways, what would it look like?

7. To close this study (and thank you to all who participated!) consider Genesis 31:19 and 31:33-35.

A. What happened here?

B. Leslie Williams writes: “Like Rachel, we hide our gods under our skirts, wondering why we are  not whole, why we are not reconciled to the God we profess.” Write a prayer here, confessing sin, asking for His power to have Christ, and Christ alone be your God.



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  1. Unbelievable how God is using this.. I was thinking the other day that the other idol in my life is my family. Especially my children. Oh my.. Can’t wait to do this study this week.

  2. 1. Read Genesis 29:21-30.

    A. How is this incident a “deja vu” for the trickster Jacob?

    Jacob disguised himself as his brother Esau, placing hairy skins on the backs of his hands and neck to feel hairy like Esau; wearing Esau’s clothing so he would feel and smell like Esau in order to deceive his blind father Isaac.
    Now the same trick has been played on him by Laban, in a darkened tent and perhaps Leah wore a veil? Anyway, he thought he was with Rachel, and Leah willingly went along with the deception.

    B. Put yourself in Leah’s place. How do you think she felt about her wedding night with Jacob? Did Jacob murmur Rachel’s name?

    She was put in a hard spot. Her father, in a way, did this to her. It is cruel. Custom or no custom her father Laban knew Jacob didn’t love her. I really can’t imagine Leah conniving with her father to pull this off, the way Jacob did with his mother Rebekah to deceive Isaac.
    She was like a pawn. I can’t see how she could have enjoyed even temporary pleasure on her wedding night, knowing that in the morning Jacob wasn’t going to be very pleased.
    Or, perhaps, she was hoping against hope that maybe he would love her after being physically united with her.

    C. How do you think she felt about Jacob’s response in the morning?

    Humiliated. Jacob says to Laban “what have you done to me?”

    I’ve always wondered about what this did to the relationship between these two sisters. How were they before Jacob entered their lives? Were they close sisters, or was there jealousy on Leah’s part because Rachel was beautiful and she was not? Or did it start when Jacob came along?

  3. This is really fascinating. The Bible doesn’t tell us the “behind the scenes” plan here. During those 7 years, did Laban tell Leah what the plan was? Was she a willing participant, or did she simply do as her father told her to do? Did she think that by deception she could steal the heart of Jacob away from Rachel, or did it make her miserable and anxious to think about how she had to deceive him? Did she hope against hope that it would all work out in her favor?

  4. D. Tim Keller said, “When you long for Rachel (something other than God to fulfill you) you always wake up with Leah.” Share a time when you were sure something would fulfill you, you got it, and were disappointed.

    Sometimes I try to fulfill a need by buying something. A new item of clothing or something for the house. I think it will make me happy. It lasts for a little while, the fulfillment, but then goes away. I can think of an outfit I bought back in June that I havent even worn yet. Or I decide it’s a trip to the hair salon that I need. The new haircut looks great for the 24 hours after it’s styled and I don’t wash my hair. But when I do, it’s the same me as before!
    I think the idea here is that waking up with Leah was a disappointment.
    Material things don’t make for lasting fulfillment; there’s some brief excitement, but then the let-down.

  5. 1. Read Genesis 29:21-30.

    A. How is this incident a “deja vu” for the trickster Jacob? (See Genesis 27)

    *Jacob was talked into this deception by his mother. This is a really ugly passage giving a great example of bad mothering. Rebecca had a problem idolizing Jacob. Yikes.

    * The “deja vu” for Jacob is that he deceived Isaac and later Jacob was deceived in a similar way by Laban. A long time ago I studied this and recall being told this is called Taleonic justice or something close to that?

    * Another “deja vu” is that Jacob deceived Isaac in the ‘dark’-Isaac couldn’t see. Jacob was deceived in the dark when he couldn’t see if his bride was Leah or Rachel until after they consummated the marriage and he found out when it was morning.

    *Also, I was thinking there might be a similarity between the first and last born -the first born was supposed to get the inheritance from Isaac, but Jacob broke the rule with deception and it went to him-the youngest.
    Laban ‘promised’ Jacob that he would get the youngest-that was the deal. Instead of getting the youngest he got the oldest-in the dark. Totally lining up with the trickery Jacob imposed on Isaac. (Not sure if I am right with this parallel but it seems close.)

  6. B. Put yourself in Leah’s place. How do you think she felt about her wedding night with Jacob? Did Jacob murmur Rachel’s name?

    * I think Susan did a great job with this question. I am trying to picture this night and I am sure it was by far not boring or awkward for Jacob.

    Scripture doesn’t say Jacob literally murmured Rachel’s name, but I will bet he murmured her name through the whole time they were together, and I think there could have been times he could have spoken louder than a murmur due to his apocalyptic physical desire for her. 🙂 In his mind he finally got his prize-his apocalyptic desire had been met finally.. I think he enjoyed that night thinking it was Rachel.
    I can’t imagine being Leah that night. She had to have known Jacob’s real desire for Rachel by the way he had sex with her that night. Susan nailed it in regard to how she might have felt in regard to her dad’s role in this and in how Jacob was loving Rachel instead of her that night. She probably felt used like an object rather than a person. Her dignity was trashed. Maybe, in her obsession for Jacob she was blinded by the truth and for a moment in time pretended his love was for her. Truly sad.

    C. How do you think she felt about Jacob’s response in the morning?

    * Insult upon insult. Perhaps she thought he would realize it was her and change his mind and love her? Her longing to be loved is evident so this wasn’t fulfilling her dream of being loved by Jacob. Her obsession was Jacob and he wasn’t loving her back. Her dreams were dashed.

  7. D. Tim Keller said, “When you long for Rachel (something other than God to fulfill you), you always wake up with Leah.” Share a time when you were sure something would fulfill you, you got it, and you were disappointed.

    * I have one before I knew Jesus since that is what is coming to mind. Please don’t take this as bragging. I don’t tell many people this because of some of the details, and how it may come off as bragging, so please keep this in confidence. It is online though so I am not sure how that will work.

    I was so close to getting a record deal back in the early 80’s. I thought success would bring fulfillment. When the A&R Rep from A&M records came to see me showcase. I found out from my manager later that he went to see, a now famous person, showcase right after me but I was one of three on the list for the record contract. Duh, of course I knew she would get it. She was already famous. I didn’t even know if she could sing, she was just acting back then. (I am SO GLAD now that I didn’t get signed!!)

    This was my dream. This is what I spent hours working on. It was my life’s obsession coming to fruition. My manager told me Polygram and a few others were still interested and to hold on a little longer.

    I was sick of it though. Showcasing and traveling in bands was nerve wracking and was a lot of work. It wasn’t fulfilling at all so I considered marriage to fill that void and my manager told me not to or my career would go down the tubes. Well, I did marry. Guess what? Marriage didn’t fulfill me either and my career went down the tubes. Music and marriage didn’t fill that void. This whole time God was wooing me and soon had my attention. I surrendered and gave my life to him in 1988. He filled that void. He gave me His joy and my life changed from my pursuits to a passion for Him-everything I wanted and did was for Him including singing.

    * I must say that even though Jesus filled that void, as a believer I tend to have a heart that is prone to wander and I can struggle with desiring fulfillment from family or things, and even ministry sometimes..yuk!

    Again, this is such a timely study last week and this week as God has brought to the surface several areas I have struggled with from my husband to my children where I am trying to make things go a certain way thinking it will bring contentment and when it doesn’t I am disappointed and the disappointment is a red flag from the Holy Spirit that I am not seeking fulfillment from Him. There are times I think I have it down as God corrects me and I am not really struggling in that area anymore but then I fall on my face again. I am so thankful that God is faithful in correcting me and long suffering toward me in the many areas I need to grow in. 🙂

  8. 1. Read Genesis 29:21-30.

    A. How is this incident a “deja vu” for the trickster Jacob? (See Genesis 27) The deceiver being deceived! I wonder if at this time he even saw himself as a deceiver??

    B. Put yourself in Leah’s place. How do you think she felt about her wedding night with Jacob? Did

    Jacob murmur Rachel’s name? I can only imagine how she felt, betrayed by her father? a bargining chip?? Certainly not honored, loved and protected.

    C. How do you think she felt about Jacob’s response in the morning?
    Rejected on top of everything else to be sure! This certainly is not the kind of wedding night or following day that I would hope for!

  9. I hope everyone had a nice holiday. We had great weather in NC. My laptop seems to be fine, thank You Lord:)

    1a. Jacob had tricked his father into giving him Esau’s birthright as firstborn. Now Laban tricked him into marrying both of his daughters and instead of giving them a dowry Jacob paid 14 years wages! Jacob really got taken in that deal. Could we not hear the wheels turning in Laban’s head when Jacob made that offer. What has been said about it being in the dark is a good point.

    1b. I think Leah was obsessed with Jacob. The reason I say that is because in verse 32 we can see that her desire is for her husband’s love. Maybe I read more into this than there is but I think she was desperate to be loved. If Jacob did speak Rachel’s name it was one of many hurts that Leah absorbed and continued to hope and try to win her husband’s love. She knew what Laban was doing and she did what he told her to do. We can only speculate about whether she went willingly, but I think she did.

    1c. Leah had to be hurt by Jacob’s response in the morning but I think she also may have felt guilty for she was part of the deception. In her mind, or maybe in her heart only she thought that one night with Jacob would cause him to love her. I love how the Lord saw her pain and blessed her in another way.

    1d. I don’t want to go too far into it but I will say that I thought that being married was the thing that would fulfill me and make me happy. For that reason I did not wait on the Lord. In fact, I was not even walking with the Lord at the time. Redeemable by the Lord but a big mess.

  10. 1. As everyone has stated Jacob tricked his father to steal the birthright away from Esau and their mother helped him. Very dysfunctional! You do have to wonder if Jacob saw what he did had been done to him.
    I don’t imagine Leah had much choice about marrying and deceiving Jacob because in that time women were totally controled by the men in their lives so she would have to obey her father. I think she was obsessed with Jacob and desperately hoped that she could win his love. I think that was a very tense and scary night for her and I am sure she knew that Jacob thought he was making love with her sister, Rachel. As Rebecca said she was used as an object and she must have felt that way. But I also think Leah believed that if she she became pregnant and gave birth to a son that Jacob would than love her more because that was so important in that time.
    When Jacob was angry and upset when he discovered he had been tricked I am sure Leah felt great humiliation and also guilt because she could have told him who she was at any time during the night.
    ‘When you long for Rachel than you wake up with Leah’. Interesting. When I was a teenager I thought being popular would make me happy, than I thought having a boyfriend would make me happy, than I thought getting married would make me happy, than I thought having children would make me happy, than I thought owning a home would make me happy. All of these things made me happy for awhile and I loved being married and having children but as I moved through life it became more and more evident that even people are temporary in your life, much less matrial things. I grew more and more to see that happiness can only come from God. I see this a great deal with my counseling clients. I ask them in the first session what they want. Most of them tell me they want to ‘be happy’. I have to than explore what they think will bring them happiness and frequently it is money or another person. Part of my job is to show them that is not where happiness lies.

  11. 2. Read Genesis 29:31-35.

    A.Meditate on verse 31. What does this tell you about God and His mercy? What does this mean to you? (Don’t go too fast through this one.)

    Wow, this verse is beautiful. The English Standard Version says, “When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.” When I first read that, it was like being kicked in the stomach, what a strong word, that she was “hated”. Then I thought how merciful and loving of the Lord, to see her, to take notice of her, and to help her. That He notices us, feels our feelings and helps us – who else cares so much? My second thought was look, he gave her someone to love, someone who will love her back.

  12. 2. Read Genesis 29:31-35.

    A.Meditate on verse 31. What does this tell you about God and His mercy? What does this mean to you? (Don’t go too fast through this one.)

    * At this point Leah’s idol was Jacob not God, she loved Jacob more than God and God knew this. He knew the condition of her heart and how far her heart was from Him yet when He heard her affliction it must have “moved” Him. He showed her his mercy by giving her a male child. She acknowledges that God heard her affliction, but still doesn’t Praise God. Instead, she sees God’s mercy as a way to capture the idol of her heart.
    To even think God knew she would respond like this before he showed her his love for her. It is beyond comprehension. It is like he kept wooing her with each child as he poured out more of his love on her.

    *This means a lot to me because even when I don’t respond the way God wants me too he is going to pursue me-he is passionate for me and desires to be the one to fulfill me totally. He is jealous for me and knows exactly what I need in regard to the timing in pulling me away from my idol, even when I am in a stage where I am holding so tightly I need it pried out of my hand.

    B. List the names Leah gave her children and how the fourth son shows a change in her heart.

    *Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah-
    When she had Judah she said nothing about Jacob or herself and her feeling of being unloved, it was simply focused on God “This time I will praise the Lord”.

    C. Some of you have already seen that Judah was the son that was in the line to the Messiah. Comment on this.

    * It is obvious that God’s sovereignty is shown in a big way here. Judah, the child in the line of the Messiah, “happens” to be born at the exact time Leah’s heart is enamored and obsessed with God rather than Jacob. I think God knew exactly what it would take for her to come to Him, and was perfect in his timing so he drew her to Him slowly. I think this was the climax when Judah was born and the first thing that came out of her mouth was, “This time I will praise the Lord”.

  13. Good insights Rebecca!!

  14. I am asking God to show me what he would have me share in song at our church in October.. I still haven’t settled on a song, but as I was searching I came across this song. It always moves me practically to tears when I hear it as I think about encountering God in His word. The first time I heard it a while ago was when I was in a desert time.. I can’t explain how God used it in my heart to remind me. It was like when you reminisce about the times you dated with your husband but better. He is the word..”We can press into Him” there as He deepens our intimacy with Him. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JK_6osCH74

    1. Beautiful song! Thanks for sharing that! 🙂

  15. God saw what was happening with Leah. She was not loved by Joseph, indeed some translations use the word ‘hated’ which is pretty strong. God had mercy on her, he felt pity for her and He gave her a son. I do wonder why if Jacob hated Leah why he kept having sex with her. This is a very personal God that looks upon a girl whose husband doesn’t love her and is moved with compassion for her.For me this means that I, as small and insignificant as I may be, am important to God. He knows that I sorrow over my husband’s death, and that I miss both husband and son. He knows how I feel and he cares how I feel. He has sent me so many blessings, my two daughters and three grandsons, the ability to see the beauty of God’s creation, a profession where I feel that God can use me to help others. I am so grateful to Him but I am touched and awed that He cares for me.
    B. Leah’s children: Reuben-she said,” The Lord has seen my misery surely my husband will love me now”;Simeon–because the Lord heard I am not loved;Levi-now at last my husband will care for me because I have borne him three sons’ Judah-This time I will praise the Lord. Leah finally decided that God was a lot more important than Jacob.
    C. Judah was the son born of Leah’s love for God.

  16. 1. A Jacob deceived his father and now Laban deceived Jacob. He has reaped what he has sown.
    B. I’m sure Leah felt awful during the wedding night because her and her father were deceiving Jacob. I would guess that Jacob called her Rachel many times during the night.
    C. In the morning when Jacob found out it was Leah instead of Rachel, I bet he was furious and she felt ashamed and foolish.
    D. I’ve felt that many things and people in my lifetime would fulfill me and I’ve been so disapointed. Judy said exactly what I wanted to. I thought marriage and children would make me happy, but no matter how much you love them and they love you, they will hurt you even if they don’t mean to. We are only human. God is the only one we can truly count on never hurting or leaving us.

    2. A Genesis 29:31 means to me that God does hear us and have mercy on us. He knew Leah’s pain and lonliness and gave her children to love and be loved.
    B Leah’s children were, Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah. All of the first three sons she bore because she hoped they would make Jacob love her. The last son, she named Judah and praised the Lord. It took her that long before she finally realized only God could fulfill her.
    C I think Leah was drawing nearer to the Lord when Judah was born and she was praising God not only for her new son but for her intimate relationship with the Lord. That’s why Judah was the one in line to the Messiah.

    3. A Rachel’s Rachel was to bear sons for Jacob. She thought that would fulfill her and make her happy.
    B The name Rachel named her second son from Jacob was Benoni meaning “son of my sorrow” because her labor was hard and she was dying. Jacob renamed him Benjamin meaning “son of the right hand” after Rachel died. Jacob had special love for Joseph and Benjamin because they were full brothers from Rachel and him.
    Some wrong reasons for having children would be just to give your husband a son like Leah and Rachel wanted to. Also a wrong reason would be just to satisfy your need to be loved.
    A right reason to have children would be because husband and wife become one and children were conceived out of love, blessed from God.

  17. My husband got a new computer for home, so I am seeing if I can get my comments posted again on the blog!

  18. 2a. Genesis 29:31 My translation says that Leah was unloved rather than hated which I think is more accurate. I think it is easy to think that Rachel was not blessed because she was loved rather than Leah. This was my first thought, until I really stopped to think. I don’t think that God was punishing Rachel because she was loved more than Leah. I don’t understand His reason for withholding children from Rachel any more than I know why Job suffered.

    God was merciful to Leah because she suffered. I don’t think the love of children can replace the love of a husband (if it did it would be a red flag). Leah’s children may have been for consolation. Don’t we all suffer pain as Christ is formed in us? It seems that God often sends consolation in other forms, like a friend at just the right time or some other form of blessing when we need it.

    What this means to me is that God does not punish me for bad behavior. He convicts me and if I do not listen then we may have some trouble. When He allows bad things to happen to me it is for reasons that I cannot understand and He will often send consolation if I have the ability to see it.

  19. Some of the godliest women I know have had hard marriages — unbelieving and difficult husbands. Like Leah, they woke up to realize that their hope was in God. And they pressed into Him, experiencing greater intimacy with Him.

    Dee, I love these 2 sentences. They are a balm to my soul. I have tried to do this, pressing in I mean and have felt guilty about what I am not doing. Spending time with God looks like wasted time in Martha’s world. But what I am beginning to see are changes in my husband. He is stepping up in some ways and doing more. It began with his salvation. I waited to see if it was real and saw changes that convinced me it was. At times I have wondered but all I can do is trust and press in. I heard a song on the radio just a few minutes ago that was about a man’s perception of what his family needed from him and was amazed to realize that my husband is now doing some of those things! Far from perfect but then so am I!

  20. 2c. For the Messiah to be in the lineage of Judah was a great honor for Leah. It is interesting that it came only after she let go of her idol. 3a. Unfortunately, I don’t think Rachel ever did. Joseph’s name means ‘He adds’ and 30:24 says that she was even at this time asking for another son. Then when she named Benjamin at her death we can see that she died in sorrow even with a second son.

    Wrong reasons for having children: 1)To live the life you wish you had lived through them. 2)To feel powerful. 3)To have someone to love you

    Right reasons for having children: 1)Obedience to God to be fruitful.

    3c. How can you know if you are too enmeshed with your children? What are some red flags? 1) Wanting to live their lives for them. 2) Not allowing them to make mistakes. 3) Not allowing them to follow God’s leading. 4) Depending on their love to meet my own needs.

    d. What are some signs that you have a healthy relationship with your children? 1) When they are independent. 2) They are not afraid to tell me what they think. 3) I am able to release them to God at the right time and in the right circumstances. 4) They want to please me because they love me not because they want to win my love.

    e. I can’t think of an answer for this one right now.
    f. God was merciful to Leah in not giving her her idol. She learned to trust Him as a result. With Rachel He was merciful and finally gave her what she wanted but she was never fulfilled with it. Perhaps she died sorrowful because she realized her mistake at the end. To me this means that God wants to give me the desires of my heart but His concern is more for the condition of my heart than making it happy. Things may go better for me if I am teachable than if I am stubborn about getting what I want.

  21. Really some great thoughts going on – thank you all!
    5. Meditate on Luke 14:25-27.
    A. Is there a paraphrase or translation that helps you with this hard saying? If so, share it.
    This translation from the (CEV) makes the passage clearer to me: Luke 14:25-27 (Contemporary English Version)
    25Large crowds were walking along with Jesus, when he turned and said:
    26You cannot be my disciple, unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. You cannot come with me unless you love me more than you love your own life.
    27You cannot be my disciple unless you carry your own cross and come with me.

    B. What do you think Jesus means by this? I think Jesus means exactly what he says by this – that we must love him above all things, more than any person, thing, idea, even our own selves.

    C. How might this apply to your life?
    This, I believe , applies to every area of my life. There are times where we will even have to “go against” those people in our lives whom we love the most, they will not understand, they will not agree, it will not make us popular or more loved but it will be the right thing to do, it will be what God asks us to do. God asks for our devotion, our trust, our obedience – above all else. I am not saying that we are vindictive, mean, haters, in fact, quite the opposite, but sometimes to follow the Lord, it will break our hearts, but there is an inner peace and joy that we have, but it will not always “feel good!”

  22. 1.A. Rachel’s ‘Rachel’ was to become pregnant and give sons to her husband, Jacob.

    B. The name of Rachel’s 2d son was BenOni, meaning ‘son of my trouble’. Rachel had great difficulty birthing this child and she knew she was dying. I agree that Rachel was not a very happy woman. She was the best loved by her husband but this wasn’t enough. She gave birth to Joseph but this wasn’t enough. I don’t think she ever completely gave up her idols. Good reasons for having children: (1) to celebrate the love between you and your mate (2) to have a Christian family and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Wrong reasons for having children: (1) To meet your needs (2) To have someone to love you (3) to fulfil what you wanted to do and be when you were younger (4) to save your marriage.

    1. Praying for you Dee! Is.61:1, Matt.25:31-40. Blessings Dee!

    2. Praying for a safe trip for you and that the filming goes smooth and no problems and blesses thousands of women.

    3. Lord, thank You so much for this work that You have prepared for Dee. Thank You for her gifts and her knowledge. Thank You that as You have begun this work, You will also finish it. We know that Your enemy will do all that is in his power to keep hearts in his prison. But he is a defeated foe and in that we rejoice! Please put a hedge of protection around all aspects of this work from travel time and health, to equipment, to content and finally around the hearts that You would reach. Prepare them even now Lord and give Dee and the producers great vision. We ask that mountains be moved and cast into the sea in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen

      1. Dee, Prayed this morning.. A little late, but God knew! Keep us posted on how it went! 🙂

  23. 2. Read Genesis 29:31-35.

    A. Meditate on verse 31. What does this tell you about God and His mercy? What does this mean to you?

    God takes notice of suffering. He saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb. It made me think of when Christian workers go into countries to provide relief after a disaster. First, they meet the real physical and emotional needs of people; food, clothing, medicine, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on. Then they have the opportunity to share the gospel.
    Leah needed to rely on God to meet her need to be loved, but God was merciful to bless her with children to nurse and hold and love, and she would be loved by them in return. He first filled her empty arms.

    God knows when I am hurting. He knows if I am unloved. He will meet me where I’m at and He shows His mercy often by sending comfort to me.

    B. List the names Leah gave her children and how the fourth son shows a change in her heart.

    Reuben (“see, a son”) “because the Lord has seen my affliction; surely
    now my husband will love me.”
    Simeon “because the Lord has heard that I am unloved”
    Levi “now this time my husband will become attached to me”
    Judah “this time I will praise the Lord”

    Judah’s birth there is no mention of trying to win Jacob’s love by the birth of another son; she is focused on praising God.

    C. Some of you have already seen that Judah was in the line of the Messiah. Comment on this.

    The Lord did certainly bring a great blessing into Leah’s life when she placed her hope in Him.

    1. Loved your answer to 2 A. Susan! Beautiful!

  24. C. You can know if you are too enmeshed with your children if “your depending on them to make you happy”. Red flags are: If they never call because you are calling them so much. If your inviting yourself to go with them alot. If you have to see them or talk to them every day. If they never come to see you because your always at their house. Or when you go there, they are gone alot.
    I’m speaking from experience about the red flags because I was the “baby” and the only girl in my family. And living in the same town when my 3 older brother’s lived further away made matter’s worse. Dad had died and mom was lonely. I loved my mom very much and we just lost her at 89 last year. But mom could never “untie the apron strings” with me. Mom interfered so badly in my previous marriage but my husband then didn’t ever say anything or act like it bothered him….he just left one day. I blamed myself because I let mom interfer. I tried to tell her nicely that we needed some space but she would cry and say we didn’t love her. After he left me and my 3 kids, mom practically moved in. She helped me with the kids and all the chores as I went to work. She was as happy as she could be untill I married my husband now about 5 years later.
    Then mom was at our house every day. We had five kids…his two and my three. She would come over every day after I got home from work and stay for supper. It caused alot of problems but my husband didn’t let her get the upper hand. He would confront her very nicely but firm. He never yelled or lost his temper. He was assertive but she hated him! This went on for 20 years. All the kids except Kendra left home.
    Mom and Kendra were very close so we let it slide alot because Kendra loved her grandma so much and mom loved Kendra like her own “baby” instead of me as much.
    All that experience made me so leary of smothering my own two kids out on their own now. But I always respect their privacy and their lives. The last thing I want is for them to hate to see me coming! Give your kids “roots and wings” and let them fly! Engross yourself in the word and work on building your personnal relationship with your heavenly husband instead of bothering your kids!

    1. Wise words, Joyce.

  25. 3. Read Genesis 30.

    A. What was Rachel’s “Rachel”? (What did she think she had to have to be fulfilled?”)

    Rachel’s “Rachel” was to bear children for Jacob. This arose out of jealousy.
    “Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous of her sister…”

    Genesis chapter 30 reads like a big baby-making competition between Rachel and Leah! And Jacob was busy between Bilhah and Zilpah and Leah and Rachel!

    B. Meditate on the name of her second son. What are some wrong reasons for having children?

    The name of Rachel’s second son, born through her maid Bilhah, was Naphtali. Verse 8 says, “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled (Hebrew – niphtal) with my sister, and I have indeed prevailed. And she named him Naphtali.”

    To compete with one’s sister or another woman out of jealousy or the need to “come out on top” is a wrong reason to have children. To have a child in order to prove your own sense of self-worth or sense of value is a wrong reason.

    What are right reasons?

    To want to conceive a child with your husband as an act of love, to see children as a gift from the Lord given to enrich your lives together and to endeavor to raise them in order to give them fully back to the Lord, because they are His.

    C. How can you know if you are too enmeshed with your children? What are some red flags?

    When the children come first before the husband and wife relationship. Having a difficult time letting go when they get older; not letting them be independent.

    D. What are some signs that you have a healthy relationship with your children?

    When there is mutual respect, and when you respect your child’s need for privacy and let them start to make their own decisions, even if it doesn’t turn out right, you don’t rush in to make it all better, you let them learn from their mistakes.
    When you realize that ultimately they are accountable to God and not to you.
    When you realize they are not an extension of you, but they are their own person, created by God and that He has a purpose for their life.

    E. What are some red flags that a local church may have elevated the family over Christ?

    I’m not sure. Maybe if all the emphasis of their programs are on the family and not how each person in the family can grow closer to God?

    F. How do you see God’s mercy with Leah? With Rachel? What does this mean to you?

    In verse 17 it says that God gave heed to Leah. She and Jacob had two more sons and a daughter, too. In verse 22 it says that God remembered Rachel, and opened her womb. She had Joseph. It was such a stigma in that time for a woman to be barren. It was merciful of God to allow her to bear a child. Even in the midst of all this jealousy and competition between the two sisters, God was accomplishing His plans to build the nation of Isreal through them.

    Even if I act like a Rachel or a Leah, God still remains faithful and He can still accomplish His purposes in my life.

  26. 5. Meditate on Luke 14:25-27.

    A. Is there a paraphrase or translation that helps you with this hard saying?

    “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
    The NASB notation says “by comparison of his love for Me” hate his
    own father and mother……

    B. What do you think Jesus means by this?

    That we must not have greater love for anyone or anything than we have for Jesus. And we must be willing to die to ourselves, our “rights”, and follow Him.

    C. How might this apply to your life?

    It’s a really fine line to love someone in my life and to want to show love to them by putting them first and helping them, thinking that also I am serving God by serving another, but the fact is that I love this person more than I love God. This is hard for me. I am very attached to a couple of people in my life. I need to be reminded that no one can meet all of my needs and promise me that they will never go away or never let me down.
    I also struggle with self-love – self-interest, selfishness, wanting to be served rather than to serve. I wish I could say this is an easy requirement for me, but it’s not.

    1. Awsome answers, Susan

  27. Praying for you, Dee, for the filming of this video!

  28. D. Some signs of a healthy relationship with your children are: To pray with them and for them. Give them their independence. Showing them how much you love them. Able to talk but not give too much advice unless they ask you. Let them make mistakes and learn from them like we had to. Love and respect their partners that they choose. Treat them as a adult instead of a child. Not play favorites between your kids and the daughter or son-in-law. Always be loving and kind and help them when they need help. Give them back to the Lord, don’t try to hang on to them.

    E. Some red flags that a local church may have elevated the family over Christ. Wow, I don’t know of any churches that do that. They usually go by what the bible says, to put God first, your spouse next and then your family and then the church. If we didn’t put God first in our lives, what kind of influence would we be for our children?

    F. God’s mercy with Leah and Rachel really amaze me. God is such a loving, forgiving and faithful God, to watch us stumble over and over in sin and jealousy and pick us up even when we haven’t learnt a thing and still bless us so much. It proves how much he loves us.

  29. My computer was SLOW yesterday so I spent a good portion of the morning defragmenting it and trying things to get it back up in good shape. I am pretty much an IT person in our home. I wanted to put this prayer request on yesterday, but couldn’t so please continue to pray for my oldest son, Eli. God is really working in his heart. When I have more time I will share later. :0)

  30. 3. Read Genesis 30

    A. What was Rachel’s “Rachel?” (What did she think she had to have to be fulfilled?)

    * Children.

    B. Meditate on the name of her second son. What are some wrong reasons for having children? What are right reasons?

    Wrong reasons:
    * Coveting what other women have like Rachel did with Leah.
    * To be loved by them.
    * Most self-serving reasons.
    * That their children might bring meaning to their life.

    Right reasons:

    * To enjoy as fruit of the womb-a blessing from God.
    * To bring God glory with them in raising them up in the admonition of the Lord.
    * To show them the Love of Jesus-to walk upright before them so they can see Jesus.
    * Big Picture I think is to bring God glory with your family-this is God’s original intent for family.

    C. How can you know if you are too enmeshed with your children? What are some red flags?

    * All of the ones listed above that others have mentioned. They are great.

    * When you worry more about what the leaders in Awana will think about YOU if your child never has their verses memorized when they come to class, or you are training your child up with God’s principles merely to make your child and you look good in the eyes of others.

    * For me, it is when I think that all my mistakes will TOTALLY ruin my child’s future. Like I have that much power over them. That tells me I am not trusting God with His word that has been implanted in my boy’s hearts and minds throughout their lives. I am not trusting in His power in their lives. It is as if I say God has control and I trust Him with their lives, yet inside sometimes I don’t live that way. That is being too enmeshed and not handing my children into his care.

    * Blaming myself for the times they are irresponsible as if all the training wasn’t enough.

    * Being afraid to let go and let them make mistakes and learn from it. Over protection can actually hurt a child. I tend to want to save them from their mistakes. I am concerned how I am going to handle it when they learn to drive. Especially my eldest two who are extremely spacey. 🙂

    * When the care and love of your children usurps that of your husband.

  31. D. What are some signs that you have a healthy relationship with your children?

    * The opposite of what I listed above. 🙂

    * Relationally, when they can tell you anything without fear of being rejected or condemned. (This is something God has blessed me with in my relationship with my boys.)

    * Praying with them when things are tough and to rejoice in prayer with them when things are good.

    * Asking them questions to get them to think through making the right choices. Like Deuteronomy says, teaching them as we walk along the way, as life happens showing them God’s promises and principles in scripture and how they apply to whatever is going on.

    * As they get older, coaching them into independence, letting them apply scripture to their life. For example, in being wise in regard to the friends they choose.

    E. What are some red flags that a local church may have elevated the family over Christ?

    * Great question. I can’t think of any examples, but I will take a stab at this anyway.

    F. How do you see God’s mercy with Leah? With Rachel? What does this mean to you?

    * It’s not like God is a kill joy and doesn’t want us to have children or the love from a husband, He just doesn’t want us to worship those things, or have idols. He wants our worship to be on Him first or as the center of our life. The focus isn’t on the children with Rachel or Jacob with Leah, but on the object of their worship.

    * God showed them both great mercy. What astounds me is God’s disdain for Sin. He is Holy and cannot be in the presence of it. Both Rachel and Leah sinned with the idols of their hearts, yet God desired for them to ‘press into Him’ rather than their idols and have great intimacy with Him. Instead of throwing them away he gently wooed them to Him. He courted them toward repentance and they responded.

    This means a lot to me. This says a lot about God’s tender care and how he pursues me to bring me back into intimacy with Him when my heart wanders. He moves in my life according to what I will need to have Him be the object of my worship. His timing is perfect to draw me away from my idols like Dee mentioned so eloquently where I can then “press into Him” and “experience a deeper intimacy with Him”.

  32. By the way ladies, I wanted to share this yesterday but was unable. Wed. night my eldest went to church for the start of their middle school ministry for his age group. HE LOVED IT. It has been hard in the past getting him excited about going to these things at church. Here is the deal.. I prayed late about it. On the way to pick him up, but God answered my prayer IN DETAIL before I prayed.

    Here were the desires in my heart as I prayed (I will shorten them).

    * That Eli would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading in His heart-He would draw closer to Jesus.

    * That He would meet someone and make a friend. Eli has always struggled with this in church before.

    * Also, I want Eli to be happy and it really tears at my heart when he struggles. So I told God I just wanted Him to be happy. I felt stupid asking that but God is the only one who can provide that, I can’t.

    ** I really think this was a huge kiss from God to lovingly remind me that He is deeply moved with Eli’s struggles and He loves Him and He is Eli’s provider.

    Here is what Eli said when I picked him up:

    “Mom, this was the best night of my life.” “Last night I prayed and told God I want to be a Christian and when I woke up this morning I felt different.” “Tonight, after the teaching I felt like I was brought closer to Jesus.” “Oh yeah, and I think I made a friend!!” ” I am so happy!”

    I kid you not. This is exactly what he said! Immediately I gave God praise inside! I told Eli how I prayed for him and how God answered and Eli said, “wow, really mom?!”

    He got out his bible and started reading and he picked Psalm 1. “Blessed is he who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers.”- I asked him what he thought each part of that verse meant. We had a great discussion.

    This was all in the van so by the grace of God I didn’t get in a wreck. I was pretty distracted being in awe of what God was showing me. :0)

    1. Rebecca that is so awsome! I almost was in tears for you and Eli! I will keep praying for him.

    2. I’m with Joyce..that is so awesome Rebecca about your son!!! 🙂 God is so awesome!! 🙂

    3. Rebecca, this is so wonderful! Lord, thank You so much for Your great love for Eli and for the marvelous work You are doing in his life. How You have blessed his heart! As I recall our prayers for the right church for Rebecca’s family, I can’t thank You enough for answering with such unmistakable clarity.

    4. You will certainly treasure these memories in your heart, Rebecca!

      1. Thanks for the encouragement ladies!

        1. Ladies, here is something I found in regard to God answering our prayers before we even pray them which is exactly what happened to me with Eli:

          “I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! Isaiah 65:24 NLT

          Here is the NASB: “It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.

          I can’t help but think of how romantic this is of God to do-to think of Eli’s need and have taken care of it before I even asked. He knew I was rushed that day and evening and hadn’t had time to talk with him about it, yet He still answered.

    5. That is so wonderful. God is blessing Eli and you. I speak from experience we go through some hard times raising children but when I see both my daughters in church and very active in God’s work I am awed by how good the Lord has been to me. Shortly before my husband’s death he commented on what a blessing it was to know that you would be able to spend eternity with your spouse and children in God’s Kingdom and you are on your way to that blessing.

  33. E. What are some red flags that a local church may have elevated the family over Christ? I think one “red flag” would be if the church is all self-focused, having only programs that focus on self or one’s own family, having little if any outreach programs.

  34. 6. Explain the difference between cherishing your husband and children and making idols of them. If you get this right, in practical ways, what would it look like?

    I’m thinking to keep my focus on the Giver (God) of these gifts (my husband and children) and worshipping Him instead of centering my life around my family and worshipping them, making them my “everything” and making them the source of all my happiness.

    Making sure that I spend time alone with God each day and not be too busy with husband and children that God gets put on the back-burner for the day. Show God that I value Him and time with Him by making this a priority. (I need to preach this to myself!)

    If they are my idols then I will be upset when I dont get my way in the family, because my idols are there to serve me and meet my emotional needs.

    1. Dee, Excellent. I didn’t think of it like this at all, or think of going in this direction with it.

      I am either going to memorize this paragraph or keep it somewhere where I see it every day. I see this so much of this in our churches and see where I am guilty of some of these as well, and I am sure we could broaden that list. Talk about an eye opener.

      Dee, I can’t think of a good way to ask this, but where does this usually start in our hearts? Could it start with ‘good intentions’ of wanting to obey God and then get twisted along the way because we took the reigns instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to work that out in us?

    2. When I read this today I found a ready made example of an idol in the making. It started with God revealing something to me. That is a good thing but rather than waiting for Him and the next step from Him, I went off on a tangent thinking and planning until it was a good thing made by me rather than a blessing from God. It was so subtle.

  35. #6. I answered almost exactly what Susan wrote, so I won’t put it again on here.

    * I have to add though that after reading this recent paragraph by Dee, it richly applies to this question,and it is interesting how one of those stuck out like a sore thumb as to something I have overly pursued.

    #7. I have to say on this question that I have learned the hard way over time that even though we are reconciled to Christ when we accept him as our Lord and Savior, we can put idols up thinking they will make us whole as if Jesus hasn’t totally made us whole. Perhaps that is the process of sanctification. I think I deceived myself many years ago as a new believer thinking this would never happen to me, but God has shown me different over the years as I have to admit God is bringing to mind some things I held up as idols and how subtle and less obvious that has gotten the longer I walk with Jesus. Now I think I know why I have gone in and out of desert seasons. It is most likely because of idols creeping in some how.

    My heart can be so deceptive the only way I can see these issues in my heart is if the Holy Spirit brings it to the surface. I praise God that He does this for me. God is so good!

    -Lord thank you for showing me some of these idols I had buried in my heart that I didn’t know were there. I give you the praise for bringing them to the surface and confess right now and agree with you Lord that it is sin. Lord give me the power to weed these out of my heart, let go of them and to keep you on the throne. Lord, please make it clear when I see myself striving in these areas and give me the power to turn from it. Thank you Jesus for bringing this to my attention and for your faithful, passionate pursuit of me to draw me closer to you.

    1. Rebecca
      I have made your prayer my prayer. I thank God for blessing me through you.

    2. Thank you, Rebecca, I pray these same words for myself, Lord. My heart can be so deceitful and idolize so many things. Please help us all, Father, I pray in Jesus name. Amen

  36. Happy Saturday Everyone! Alot of my thoughts have already been shared so I’m going to answer with just a few additional thoughts. This study has forced me to take a deep look within myself. Just what I need to do during this season of my life.

    1.B. I would say Leah felt pretty lousy on her wedding night and I’m sure she quietly shed some tears. Of course Jacob murmured Rachel’s name. He had been waiting for seven years to get his hands on her.

    C. Leah must have felt like a used up piece of kleenex after Jacob discovered he had not married Rachel. I imagine his words of the morning after to have been: “You are not Rachel!”

    D. What I am about to share may sound silly but it was what came to mind after reading this question. A couple of years ago I wanted to buy myself a new purse for my birthday. I’m normally not a brand name person but for this particular birthday I wanted an Aigner purse. I set my budget and had a style in mind and off to the store I went. After searching for awhile I came across the perfect purse but it was out of my price range. I decided to check another store and came across a different name/style and the price was right. Oh how I enjoyed my new purse and all the compliments. I thought we would share many years together. NOT! A couple of months back one purse strap broke and before I could get it fixed the other strap broke beyond repair. We didn’t even make it two years together. So out of the closet came a hand me down purse which had been given to me by a now deceased acquaintance. She had found it at a yard sale when she lived in Florida. The funny thing is when I mention that I have a Dooney and Burke purse jaws drop in disbelief. Turns out it’s a more expensive brand than Aigner. I didn’t know what I had until I saw QVC selling them.

    2.A. Genesis 29:31 tells me God was very merciful to Jacob by blessing Leah with children. I see it as part of God’s plan to build the nation promised to Abraham.

    Looking over the last sixteen years of my life, I see the merciful hand of God. For thirteen years He worked on humbling me. Once I stopped trying to live my life as I thought it should be lived (by me having control of the reins) I was able to begin living a life of true righteousness. Fully yielded to God.

    B. Leah’s sons: Reuben (see-a son), Simeon (heard), Levi (attached), and Judah (praise). After the birth of Judah Leah begins to praise God. Perhaps she realizes He is the true source of her blessings.

    C. Leah was afforded the great privelege of bearing Judah the progenitor of Israel’s (and ours) Messiah. Unloved Leah, the one who was looked upon as an enemy, gave us God’s greatest gift of love.

    3.B. Even though her maid gave physical birth to Dan and Naphtali, Rachel was considered their legal mother. So I submit that Naphtali is Rachel’s second son. Naphtali means ‘my wrestling’ and in this case I would add ‘with my sister’.

    Some of the wrong reasons for having children:
    Thinking a child will validate your existence.
    Having a child so someone will love you.

    E. Red flags that a local church may have elevated the family over Christ include a church joining the local chamber of commerce in order to promote itself as a ‘family-friendly’ church and planning church events around the school calendar.

    5.A Luke 14:25-27. I like the Message.

    25) Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them,
    25) If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
    27) And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple.

    B. Jesus is not saying don’t care for our families. I believe he is saying I, Jesus, am to be more important to you than your family. I am to have TOP PRIORITY. I think each one who follows Jesus must bear the responsibilities of the faith and work He gives us to accomplish.

    C. I’ll be the first to admit I love the woman I see in the mirror the most. Right now I don’t have a family to take care of, it’s just me and its easy to look out for just one person. But, on the other hand, if I don’t place Jesus first I will grow to be inconsiderate, selfish, and uncaring about the needs of others which is the complete opposite of the Spirit of Christ. Susan’s answer here puts it all in perspective for me. If God blesses me with remarriage I don’t want to make my family an idol. I also think that I must be willing to do whatever and maybe go wherever the Lord would have me. He’s the one with the plan and I want to be obedient to follow it.

  37. 5b. In Luke 14:26 I think that Jesus is saying that to be His disciple we cannot have relationships that are more important to us than our relationship with Him. In fact we must be willing to die for Him! That is a hard saying yet when I read testimonies from the persecuted church I see that people are dying for Jesus all the time and it seems that He gives them the strength for the time, for the next step perhaps. I can’t see myself being anything but afraid.

    5c. I can apply Luke 14:26 to my life when I am afraid in relation to those that I love. When I worry about them, when I try to control things in their lives because I am afraid for them, I can pray for them and trust the Lord with them. When I put Him first He will sort out the things in my family.

    6. The difference between cherishing and idolizing is hard to explain. When I cherish someone I am interested in everything about them. I want to know what they think, what they enjoy and what causes them pain. Their pain causes me pain and their joy gives me joy. When they make a mistake I cover for them and when they sin I forgive and I am not devastated by either event. They are important to me but not in a way that would take away a piece of my identity if they did sin. Perhaps the litmus test would be my reaction to mistakes. Do I try to control and become angry when they do not do what I think is best for them? Am I embarrassed when they are less than perfect? If I get it right I see their mistakes as an opportunity for them to grow and try to facilitate their growth. I will also not be afraid to deliver the tough love when necessary.

    If I am going to have an idol it has to be better than I am because it is the thing that will save me. So if this idolized thing or person proves itself imperfect I am lost and must then find a new idol. Not good if this happens with husband or children.

    7a. Rachel stole her father’s idols ‘just in case’. She was not completely surrendered to God, perhaps not sure she could trust Him. I am now learning that God does not reveal every step at once and He does not reveal the first step until we surrender completely. How easy it is to ‘unsurrender’ at any point on the journey.

    Lord, I praise You because You are completely trustworthy. Thank You for the faith You have given me. Thank You for revealing idolatry in my heart. Please forgive me for not trusting in Your goodness, for wanting make sure I get what I want ‘just in case’ it might not be in Your plan for me. Please help me to follow You step by step and help me to trust no matter where You lead. I surrender to You completely. A

  38. 3.C. Signs of enmeshment with children: (1) Seeing them as an extention of you, wanting them to be what you wanted to be. (2) Using them as a status symbol: (3) having your life rotate around them, even ignoring your husband while your life is centered on the children. (4) Setting no boundaries.
    3.D. Healthy relationship with children:(1) Setting limits. (2) Spending individual time with each of them as well as family time.(3) Setting boudaries. It is more important to be a parent than a friend. Children make friends but a parent is much more than a friend. You are not running a popularity contest. (4) Teaching them about God’s love for them and introducing them to Jesus Christ.
    God showed His mercy to Leah by giving her children though she was not loved by her husband. He also showed His love to Rachel by eventually giving her a child. It is wonderful that God cared about both Leah and Rachel. They were two sisters in a baby making competition but God looked at the real women and was sensitive to their pain. This tells me that God also looks at me and knows what I am feeling.
    Luke 14: 25-27 Jesus has to be more important to you than anyone else in your life. If you put someone else before Jesus, including your wishes and desires, than that is your idol. We all tend to be a lot like Rachel, dragging our idols along with us.

    1. Another great thought from Keller. Thanks!

  39. I just had a thought. Could it be that we could be unintentionally creating ‘parent idols’ in our children’s hearts?

    Judy, have you seen this as an issue amongst some of the people you have counseled?