The testimonies of those who have led lives far removed from God always leave me inspired. When those whose experiences caused them grief or hardship, sickness or disease, or just a realization that life was meaningless testify to the power of God releasing them from their bondage of sin, I feel a sense of satisfaction and pleasure. It reconfirms my faith in God. It is so awesome what God can do and has done over the centuries for mankind. He chooses the weak and fallen and turns their life around in sometimes surprising and dramatic ways that leave the mind boggling with the mystery that is God. We read or hear of persons who have led a life of drugs, alcohol, or criminal activities. Some have called on God for help when they have reached the mire of distress and have benefitted from His healing hand. In some cases, someone reached out in a desire to help when God urged him or her to be a beacon of light to an individual in sore need of restitution.
Scripture provides us with many examples of persons whom God had chosen to transform their lives for the better. Jacob, who at the instigation of his mother Rebekah, deceived his father so that he could receive his blessing (Gen. 27: 6-29) by stealing his brother Esau”s birthright (Gen.27: 29-34) is one example of reformation. God does not let our sin go unpunished. However, if we repent of our sins “He is faithful and just to forgive us” (1 John 1:9). After his deception, at the urging of his mother Jacob fled to his uncle Laban to escape the wrath of his brother Esau who threatened that he would kill him. We might call it poetic justice as he too experienced deception when he served his father-in-law for seven years for the hand of his daughter Rachel in marriage. He realized the morning after the marriage ceremony that her sister Leah was supplanted in her place. (Gen. 29: 18-28). Because of his love for Rachel he was prepared to serve another seven years in servitude to Laban for her.
Deceit has its consequences and is sometimes coupled with covetousness. It destroys friendships and breeds distrust in families. In this case, Rebekah coveted Esau’s birthright and blessing for his twin brother Jacob, whom she favoured. In doing so, she was breaking the tenth commandment: “Do not covet” what belongs to another, and also Jacob by breaking the fifth:” Honour thy father and mother” was dishonouring his father by practising deceit on him. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?”
God bade Jacob to return to his own country, promising that He would be with him. Our consciences sometimes make cowards of us all and although he remembered God’s promise he feared the reprisal of his brother Esau. He therefore begged God “Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau. For I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.” (Gen. 32:11). On returning from his uncle Laban with his two wives and children, he divided his family and servants into two bands and sent messengers ahead with gifts for his brother. When he was alone, he moved to one side and rested. He had a dream in which he struggled with an angel to whom he said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” The Bible says because he had struggled with God and with men, and prevailed, the angel said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel“ (Gen. 32: 22-30).
God’s blessings far outweigh that of man’s. Jacob during his stay with his uncle Laban increased his possessions considerably and with his two wives he left with his eleven sons, Benjamin not yet having been born. He restores the faithful to His love and protection and lets even his enemy turn away from his wrath and hatred towards him. So, even though Jacob greatly feared Esau, God was able to turn the heart of Esau favourably towards his brother and, Esau, showing his pleasure on seeing Jacob, ran to meet him and embraced him.
Many of those in giving their testimonies have become pastors, evangelists, missionaries, have their own ministries and do marvellous work sharing the love of Jesus Christ. They have succeeded in turning others from a life of destitution and lawlessness, sorrow and upheaval, to one of faith in God. They travel to impoverished regions to help in opening wells to bring water and hope to a famished generation; they build churches and bring the native residents to a new understanding of what it means to live in the presence of a good and merciful God. They erect schools with the help of the new believers and transform the lives of so many that they do answer the command of Jesus when He told His disciples to “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)
You know the amazing thing about being inspired by the stories of those before us is that we have to take the time to see them. And the time to respond if they are still around. More here... http://managedsurrender.com/spilling-scripture/community/encourager/