Wednesday, January 18, 2012
JACOB and JOSEPH, Following In The Footsteps of Faith, 1/18/2011
THE HEARTBREAK OF A SHATTERED DREAM, Part 4a
Have you ever experienced the heartbreak of a shattered dream? Everything was set! You were sure things were going to turn out a certain way, and then the bottom fell out from under everything.
Maybe it was a child that did not turn out the way you envisioned. Maybe it was a financial setback that broke your heart. Maybe it was a marriage that did not go as you had dreamed it would. Life, it often seems, is a series of shattered dreams. When our dreams are shattered it often leaves us devastated, confused and upset. Sometimes we might be tempted to think that God has forgotten about us and about our dreams. We might even wonder if God has forgotten about the things He promised us in His Word.
I wonder how Joseph felt as the events of this passage worked themselves out. I wonder if he questioned the dreams God had already given him,( Gen. 37:5-10). Surely, when his brothers ripped off his coat, threw him into a pit, ignored his pleas and sold him into slavery, Joseph must have felt like his dreams had all been shattered to pieces. I want to take a look at these verses today. If they teach us anything, they teach us that life can seem incredibly unfair at times. They teach us that our dreams can be put to the test. They teach us that life doesn’t always go like we think it will. These verses have a lot to say to us today.
Besides speaking to us about our dreams, they also speak to us about the harsh nature of sin, when it is allowed to reign in hearts and lives. But, in the end, these verses also remind us that even when the dreams of our lives lie about us in shattered pieces, God is still in control! If God gave the dream to begin with, He is able to guarantee that it will become a reality.
So, today, let’s look into these verses and glean the truths that God has placed here. I want to take these verses and look at "The Heartbreak Of A Shattered Dream". Let’s try to get some help from the life of Joseph today.
v. 12-14 JACOB’S DEMAND
His Command – Jacob want Joseph to go and check on the welfare of his brothers. They are off, away from the family, tending their father’s sheep. There are a couple of reasons why Jacob was concerned about his sons.
1. They were in Shechem. It was here that Simeon and Levi had murdered an entire village to avenge the rape of their sister Dinah,( Gen. 34:1-31). Surely there was anger in that region and Jacob feared for their safety.
2. His sons had proven that they were not trustworthy. Joseph had already had to bring his father an “evil report” regarding some of his brothers while they were on shepherd duty. Jacob was probably wondering what evil they were up to now.
Jacob sends Joseph because he can be trusted to do the right thing and to tell his father the truth. Something Christians ought to do.
His Confusion – Evidently Jacob was out of touch with all that was happening in his own family. Jacob appears to have been a father who was occupied with things other than the needs of his family. Had he been paying attention, he would have known that Joseph’s older brothers hated him. He would have known that their hatred had been growing and had reached a point that they couldn’t even speak to him in a kind manner, (v. 4).
Either Jacob was out of touch with his family or he underestimated the extent of the problems in his own home. He may have known what was happening but believed that the other boys were not capable of harming Joseph. As we will see, not only were they capable of harming him, they were capable of murder! If there is a lesson for us here it is this: Parents should pay close attention to what is happening in the lives of their children. You need to know who their friends are. The Bible is clear: the wrong kind of friends can ruin a life and destroy a testimony,( 1 Cor. 15:33). You need to know how they are spending their time and money. You need to know what is happening in their lives. You need to know what they are looking at on the Internet. You need to know what they are text messaging on their cell phones. You have a right to know!
Children will demand their privacy, but as long as they live in your house, their business is your business. Passive parents will pay a high price for allowing their children do as they please.
v. 13-17 JOSEPH’S DEVOTION
v. 13 It Was Immediate – Without question Joseph accepts his father’s assignment and leaves to go find his brothers. He knows the risks, but obedience to his father’s commands is his first priority. In this regard Joseph is a type of Jesus. When Jesus came into this world, He was sent by His father, but He came willingly. Jesus did not have to be forced to come into this world to die for sinners. He came because it was His Father’s foreordained and determinate will. Our lives ought to be marked by the same level of obedience. When God speaks, we should respond humbly and immediately to carry out His will. Nothing demonstrates our love for Jesus any more than out willing obedience to His will, (John 4:15; 1 John 5:2-3). By the way, had Jacob and Joseph known that when they said goodbye to one another it would not be for a few days, but for twenty years, would their parting have been different? It is in God’s great mercy that the future was hidden from them and from us! I praise the Lord that I do not know the future here on earth!
v. 15-17 It Was Insistent – When Joseph arrived in Shechem, he did not find his brothers there. A man tells him that they left Shechem and have gone to Dothan. Many people might have concluded that they had fulfilled their obligation when they could not find their brothers in the place their father sent them. Many would have turned around and gone home. Not Joseph! His father wanted to know the welfare of his sons and he wanted word brought back to him. Joseph wanted to carry out the will of his father, even if it meant going beyond the original command.
Again, Joseph is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus came into this world to seek the lost sheep of Israel. He pursued them with steadfast love, but they rejected Him out of hand. He continued to pursue them, eventually dying on a cross to open the way of salvation for all who would come to Him by faith. Jesus was not deterred by man’s rejection and hatred. He loved sinners and died to set them free! We should have that same desire within our own hearts. Nothing should be able to prevent us from accomplishing our Father’s will for our lives. Regardless of the cost, pain or the opposition, we should seek to serve Him and be everything He saved us to be. I don’t know about you, but I want to reach the end of my journey knowing I did everything He told me to do to the fullest extent possible!
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“O FOR A FAITH THAT WILL NOT SHRINK” By W. H. Bathurst (1831)
O, for a faith that will not shrink, Though pressed by every foe, That will not tremble on the brink Of any earthly woe!
That will not murmur nor complain Beneath the chastening rod, But, in the hour of grief or pain, Will lean upon its God.
A faith that shines more bright and clear When tempests rage without; That when in danger knows no fear, In darkness feels no doubt.
Lord, give me such a faith as this, And then, whate’er may come, I’ll taste, e’en here, the hallowed bliss Of an eternal home.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW!
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
JACOB, Following In The Footsteps of Faith, 1/18/2012
Genesis 35:1-7GETTING BACK TO BETHEL, Part 3b, Continued from Yesterday!
v.2-5 GOD’S COMMAND WAS HEEDED BY JACOB
Jacob knew that if he was going to get back to Bethel, some changes would have to be made in his life. God isn’t the One who needs to make a change; we are the ones who need to change!
Jacob caused his family to make some changes before they began their journey back to Bethel. I would like to point those changes out if I can. Isn’t it interesting that Jacob took the leadership role in the family? Men, it isn’t your wife’s responsibility to be sure the family makes it to the house of God for worship. It’s yours! It is your responsibility to ensure that your household operates according to the standards of God’s Word! You will give an account of how well you lead your family in the things of the Lord. I don’t know about you, but that makes me tremble! Notice:
1. They Cast Off Their Deities: Rachel and her stolen images - (Gen. 31:34-35). Our idols must go also -( 1 John 5:21; 1 John 2:15). All the things that steal love and devotion from the Lord must be removed from our lives, if we want His blessings upon us, (Col. 3:1-2). Whatever takes your time, your money and your devotion is your god!
2. They Cleansed Their Dirtiness: All filthiness, inward and outward had to be cleansed. A dirty life hinders worship ( Ps. 66:18); a clean life brings blessing ( Ps. 24:3-4). God expects His people to turn away from the wickedness of the flesh (Col. 3:5-11).
3. They Changed Their Dress: Their garments were spotted by sin ( Gen 34). Clean garments are symbolic of separation. If we are to ever be where the Lord desires us to be, then we must dress ourselves in the holiness of the Lord ( 1 Pet. 1:16; 2 Cor. 5:17). This world and all the things that are embraced by it must be rejected by the child of God who would get close to the Lord: (clothing styles; lifestyle; music; entertainment; etc. ( James 1:27; 1 Tim. 6:14).
4. They Created Some Distance: These things were buried not so they could be reclaimed later, but so they would be gone forever. What they did is a picture of repentance (Rom 2:4)! Repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of direction in life. When a person repents of something, they change their thinking about it and the turn and walk away from it, putting some distance between themselves and that thing. Repent means to turn and never return (Acts 2:38)!
Some of God’s people need to do that very thing today. There are some things in your life that need to be repented of today. You need to change your mind about those things and then you need to change your direction in life and walk away from those things, or those people, that are causing you problems in your spiritual walk…CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE! You need to put some distance between yourself and those evil things!
It is interesting to note that they were protected as they journeyed to meet God, (v. 5). Those who will seek the Lord have a dedicated and determined enemy, (1 Pet. 5:8), but no one can prevent the honest heart from getting right with God ( Ps. 145:18, Pro. 8:17). Are you heeding the command of God to return to your Bethel?
v. 6-7 GOD’S COMMAND WAS HONORED BY JACOB
When Jacob returned to Bethel, he rebuilt his altar and worshipped the Lord. When we hear and obey the call of the Lord; prepare our hearts and lives for worship; then we can rebuild the old altars and worship the Lord again in Spirit and truth ( John 4:23-24). That is where the Lord wants to bring each of us. And, it is where the redeemed heart wants to be. If you have heard all of this and your response is something like: “Well, I don’t really care about changing anything. I am as happy as I can be in the situation I am in right now. I don’t want to be any closer to the Lord. I don’t want to change a thing in my life. I just want to be left alone so I can enjoy myself and so I can do the things I want to do.” I would suggest to you that you probably aren’t even saved! If you know Him, there will be a hunger somewhere in your soul to be closer to him than you are. There will be a desire to worship Him; to love Him; to be near Him. If that heavenly tug is absent, then He is probably absent as well. You don’t need to get back to Bethel; you just need to get to Bethel the first time and be saved!
The altar Jacob built was symbolic of several things. When we return to our Bethel and rebuild our altars, we will find they stand for the same things.
1. It Spoke Of Worship - At the altar God was adored. God must be adored by His people if there is to be real worship. That simply means that we must come to a place where we are willing to humble ourselves before Him; confess our sins; claim His forgiveness; and lift His Name in our praises. Worship is about us becoming less, while He becomes more!
2. It Spoke Of Love – At that altar, Jacob gave his best and, ultimately, he gave himself. He proved that he loved the Lord by doing what God told him to do. (John 14:15). Nothing says we love the Lord like our obedience to His commands!
3. It Spoke Of Service - People came to the altar to make vows of service to the Lord. God is looking for people who will selflessly serve Him; who will put Him first in their lives; who will give their all for Him and to Him.
4. It Spoke Of Obedience - God told Jacob to build the altar and nothing less would have pleased the Lord. He demands total obedience ( 1 Sam. 15:22).
5. It Spoke Of Obligation - Jacob owed the Lord a debt of gratitude for all the Lord’s blessings upon his life. He expressed that debt at the altar! We are indebted also! Think of all the Lord has done in your life, and think of how little you have done for Him in return. God does not require us to serve Him as repayment for all He has done for us; but the redeemed heart that loves God cannot help but serve Him out of gratitude! Mary in John 12:1-8; Mark 14:8 is an example.
6. It Spoke Of Sacrifice - The altar was a place for sacrifice. The Bible doesn’t record it, but Jacob certainly offered a sacrifice to the Lord, (Heb. 9:22). The altar still stands for sacrifice, but God isn’t looking for blood. The Blood has already been shed back at the altar of the cross by Jesus, one for all, (Heb. 9-10). God is looking for living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1-2). He is looking for those people who will place all they are and all they have on the altar for God’s glory. It is those people who will enjoy the best God has to give in this world; and who will hear Him say, “Well done” in the next world.
Conc: God changed old Jacob’s life after he came back to Bethel. God changed his name from “trickster” to “prince with God”, (v. 10). God renewed all the promises that He had made to Abraham and Isaac and gave them afresh to Jacob, (v. 11-12). God did all of this because Jacob obeyed God’s call and came back to Bethel. Let’s be honest today, some folk need to come back to Bethel. You need to rebuild those old altars and get cleaned up and worship the Lord one more time. Wouldn’t you like to have that peace that comes from serving God once more? Wouldn’t you like to be able to come to church and worship instead of coming in with a sense of guilt and shame? Wouldn’t you like for your prayer life to be more powerful; your witness be clear and your joy to be full? You can have that and much more if you will only get back to Bethel. Some of you need to come to Bethel for the first time. You know that you have never trusted Jesus as your Savior. You know you need to be saved. Well, that can happen today, if you will come to Him. Whatever the need, you can rest assured that the supply will be found in Jesus! Get to Bethel today and get what you need from God.
TODAY”S HYMN and BLESSING!
Restore My Soul
By Sylvia Rose (1896)
Restore my spirit, Lord, I need restored.
My heart is weary, please help me, dear Lord.
I stand in need of more strength from Your Word,
Renew my love, rebuild my faith,
O restore my soul.
Revive the fire, Lord, deep in my soul.
Stir my desire to work in Your fold.
Light in my heart, dear God, my zeal grown cold.
Renew my love, rebuild my faith,
O restore my soul.
Monday, January 16, 2012
JACOB, Following The Footsteps Of Faith, 1/16/2012
V. 25b-32 JACOB WAS VERY MUCH ALTERED, Part 2b, Continued From Yesterday!
This one night in the life of Jacob was the culmination of 20 years of patient activity by the Lord. We want instant everything today. Instant coffee, instant tea, instant grits, instant gratification, instant everything! Yet there is one thing for sure: Instant holiness is not available to anyone! It is always the result of prayer, sacrifice and self-denial and that takes time. It seems that God always takes His time in bringing us to spiritual maturity. He gently and patiently leads us along and brings us to the place where we can be filled and used for His glory. This is evident in the life of Jacob.
V. 25b-27 He Was A Broken man -
1. He Was Clinging - Jacob is no longer fighting, he is merely holding on. If we insist on fighting the Lord as His attempts at growing us, He will eventually bring us to the place where all the fight is gone. You see, He knows exactly where and how to touch your life to get your attention. Absalom and Joab in 2 Sam. 14:28-32 are other examples. God's desire for your life and mine is that we come to the place where we stop walking in our own power and self-sufficiency, and we come to the place where we are depending on Him for everything. He wants us to understand the truth of John 15:5.
2. He Was Confessing - The angels demands to know Jacob's name. He forced him to admit just who he is…Jacob, which means trickster, supplanter, cheat, one who takes you by the heal. Or, in our terms, one who twists the arm. Jacob had to come to the place of seeing himself as he really was before the Lord could use him. By the way, God can't use any of us until we are willing to admit the truth about ourselves to Him. God can't use us until we come to the place where we are willing to admit that we are failures and sinners before Him and that we are incapable of anything without Him - (1 John 1:9). God will bless an honest heart, (Ps. 51:17), "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."
V. 28-30 He Was A Blessed Man - The Jacob who left Canaan was capable of deceiving his brother, lying to his blind father, of cheating a crooked uncle. But, the man who returns is a man with a new nature. No more Jacob the "Trickster", but Israel a "Prince with God."
God's purpose in breaking us is always the same. He does it so that He can make us again, like The Potter - (Jer 18:4). He doesn't throw us away, but He shapes us and molds us until we fit the image He desires for us to have. He really is still working on us! Saulbecame Paul - He was worthless until he was broken before the Lord. But, once he was broken, the world was touched for Jesusby him! I wonder what God could do with each of us if we came to that place where we were totally broken and yielded before the Lord?
V. 31-32 He Was A Branded Man - The limp! Everywhere Jacob went after that day, he carried the mark of God upon his body. When he stood before Pharaoh in Gen. 47:7-10, and every step he took reminded him and everyone around him that he was the Lord's and the Lord had touched him in a very personal manner. The believer is no different ( Matt. 5:16). We ought to be branded for Jesus like Paul in Gal. 6:17 and The Law of the Bondslave in Ex. 21:1-6. After the hole had been bored into the ear, there was no doubt as to who the slave belonged to! By the way, folk ought not have to wonder about us either! The walk of the believer ought to be different ( 2 Cor. 5:17). When a man is walking with the Lord, he will always be out of step with the world!
Conc: Jacob's life was one of contrasts. Before this incident, faulty, substandard living marked this man's life. After this eventful night, holiness and spirituality marked him. If you were perfectly honest today, which would you say best describes your life? Carnal or spiritual? Perhaps this would be a good time for you to come to this altar and let this be the place for your Peniel experience. Let this be the night when you come before the Lord and allow yourself to be broken by Him for service. Let this be the time when you are forever altered. The time when you fully and finally present yourself a living sacrifice to the Lord Jesus Christ, (Rom. 12:1-2; Eph 4:22-24). Many of you know you have resisted His call; let today be the day when you find yourself out of step with the world and in step with God. Will you come as He calls you to Him?
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“HAVE THINE OWN WAY”
Words by A. Pollard (1902) and music by G. C. Stebbins in (1907).
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me, I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit ’till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
JACOB, Following In The Footsteps of Faith, 1/15/2012
Gen. 32:22-32 JUST A LITTLE TALK WITH JESUS, Part 2a
This is the second spiritual encounter of Jacob's life. The first was at a place called Bethel, (Gen. 28:10-22). At Bethel, Jacob saw a ladder; at Jabbok, he saw the Lord. At Bethel, Jacob became a believing man; at Jabbok, he became a broken man. At Bethel, Jacob became a son of God; at Jabbok, he became a saint of God. At Bethel he died to his sins; at Jabbok, he died to self. He left Bethel with a spring in his step; he left Jabbok with a lasting limp but with a forever changed heart.
Now, all men need a Bethel experience. Every person today needs to be able to recall a time when you met God personally, you received Him and became His child. Isn't salvation wonderful? However, many never go beyond that experience. They get saved and that's as far as they go. They never seem to be able to produce anything for the glory of the Lord. While we must have a Bethel experience if we expect to get to Heaven, we also need a Jabbok experience if we ever hope to be useful to the Lord.
The very thing that happened to Jacob needs to happen in the life of every believer. He spent the night talking with the Lord and He was never the same. I would venture to say that 99% of all Christians need to have a little talk with Jesus like old Jacob had. Let's spend some time today looking into these verses and see what transpired during Jacob's talk with the Lord.
V. 24a JACOB WAS VERY MUCH ALONE
Jacob was facing a serious time of testing. He had left his home behind and he was about to face a brother he had wronged many years earlier. At this juncture in his life, he needed to seek counsel from the Lord. The fact that Jacob spent the night in prayer is evident from Hosea 12:4. As he entered this time of prayer meeting, Jacob found himself very much alone. All he had was gone. Family, servants, livestock, wealth, everything. Jacob was forced to face God all alone!
Many people fear this kind of loneliness! People structure their time to be as full as possible. The reason? When we are alone and unoccupied, then we have to come face to face with God; another example is seen in Judas, (Matt. 27:3-5)! People fear that kind of intimacy with the Lord! Yet, the very thing they fear is the very thing they need the most in their lives.
When we are busy, we can occupy the heart and the mind. When we are alone and still, it is easier for us to hear the Lord when He is speaking. Many sinners tend to fill their lives with busy work so that they can avoid the voice of God.
If we as Christians are going to be strong in the Lord, then we must find time to be alone with God. The value of a daily quiet time is clearly demonstrated in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. He took time to be alone with the Father ( Matt. 14:23; Luke 6:12) You and I should never fear being alone with the Lord. He only has good planned for us, (Jer. 29:11), "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."
V. 24b-25a JACOB WAS VERY MUCH ALIVE
As Jacob prayed that night, it appears that he experienced a Theophany. That is, he was privileged to be in a place where the Lord decided to manifest Himself in a personal manner. Jacob experienced a theophany in a pre-Bethlehem appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ that night. The angel did not overcome Jacob for a reason. Of course, we know that God could whip Jacob with just the thought of His mind, but He allowed Jacob to fight to bring Jacob to the place where he was willing to see himself as he truly was.
At this point in time, Jacob represents the fleshy nature of man. He represents our old, sinful nature that is constantly fighting against the Lord. These natures that we are born with are stubborn, unyielding, fighting and self-sufficient. The old nature of man is everything the saint of God should not be.
The fact is, many of us are just like Jacob! We fight the Lord at every turn in our lives. God will tell us something is wrong and the old nature rebels against the Lord's truth. God will tell is something is right and our flesh will rise up in defiance. Paul struggled with this dilemma in Rom. 7:15-25. May I remind you that the old nature is not fit to live in heaven! It deserves one thing and that is to be put to death, (Col. 3:5-10; Eph. 4:22-24;Gal. 5:19-25).
We are called upon to reckon the old man dead, (Rom. 6:1-18). However, we like to drag the corpse around with us don't we? The Roman practice of taking a convicted murderer into desert, staking him down and then laying the corpse of his victim on top of him. Just as the corruption from that corpse would fall upon that guilty man until he eventually died, so our old nature eats away at us bringing death, destruction and corruption at every turn. The old human nature is fit for nothing less that the fire of hell. It does not deserve to live! I join Paul in exclaiming, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with this mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."
I challenge you to ask yourself tonight, "Who is alive? My self, that old man; or the Lord Jesus?" Do you constantly find yourself fighting against the Lord? Do you find yourself acting stubbornly when faced with God's plan for your life? Who is alive in you, the flesh or the Lord? Look again at (Rom. 6:6-7; Gal. 2:20).
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
"Just A Little Talk With Jesus"
I once was lost in sin but Jesus took me in
And then a little light from heaven filled my soul
He bathed my heart in love and wrote my name above
And just a little talk with my Jesus made me whole.
(Now let us) have a little talk with Jesus (let us) tell him all about our troubles
(He will) hear our faintest cry (and we will) answer by and by
(Now when you) feel a little pray'r wheel turning
(Then you'll) know a little fire is burning
(You will) find a little talk with Jesus makes it right.
(Makes it right).
I may have doubts and fears my eyes be filled with tears
But Jesus is a friend who watches day and night
I go to him in prayer he knows my every care
And just a little talk with my Jesus gonna makes it right
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW!
Saturday, January 14, 2012
ISAAC, Following In The Footsteps Of Faith, 1/14/2012
THE REALITIES OF A PILGRIM’S LIFE, Part 1b, Continued From Yesterday!
V. 14b-22 IT IS A LIFE OF GREAT PROBLEMS
Even Isaac’s life wasn’t filled with all blessings and glories. He fought some real battles and so will you! Let’s look at a couple of the battles Isaac was required to fight.
V. 14b-16 He Faced Problems With The World - The Bible tells us that the Philistines were jealous of Isaac. Why? Because they could see the hand of God on his life! He was prospering while they were struggling! Because they were jealous, they tried to make his life hard by plugging up the wells that had been dug by his father Abraham. Their king even kicked Isaac out of the country! Just as it was with Isaac, the Lord’s pilgrims should never expect to be accepted and understood by the world. The fact of the matter is this: the Lord tells us clearly that those who live for Him will be persecuted as they pass through this world, (2 Tim. 3:12). Of course, some of the same tactics the Philistines used against Isaac are still being employed against the people of God! They become jealous when they can’t explain or understand our peace and joy under trials. They do their best to rob us of the blessings we have as children of God when they see us walking by faith through this world. They will seek to stop up the wells from which we are drawing through discouragement, intimidation and personal attacks. Yet, the Lord said it would be this way and He tells us to rejoice when this kind of situation arises in our lives, (Matt. 5:10-12; 1 Pet. 4:12-16). So, when the world turns on you, don’t be surprised or don’t get upset. Instead, rejoice in the Lord. It will make them worse, but God will be honored and He will see you through!
V. 17-22 He Faced Problems With His Wells - We already know that the Philistines plugged up the wells of Abraham, but they even fought with Isaac over the new well he was digging in the wilderness. Why all this fascination with wells? There are several reasons. The primary one being the fact that men and animals must have water to survive. In that country, being semi-desert, water was as valuable as oil is today! In those days, all waste lands were called “God’s lands”. If any man could live in a desert place, provide for his family and flocks and open a well, then that land was considered to be his land! In other words, a well was a statement of ownership! To fill in a well was an act of war! These Philistines hated Isaac so much that they declared war on him by trying to seize his lands and drive him away from that which was his! Notice the fights he had to undertake.
V. 18 He Had To Clean Out The Old Wells - Many years before, his father Abraham had passed through the land and he had dug some wells of water. He dug those wells to meet needs in his day and to pass them down to his son Isaac so that needs could be met in his days as well. The Philistines had come along and had plugged these wells to prevent Isaac from suing them. Notice that the Philistines didn’t want them for themselves, they just didn’t want Isaac to have them. He had to take the time to reopen those wells! These old wells speak to us of the spiritual resources that were uncovered and proclaimed by our spiritual fathers in days gone by. If we are not careful, the world will destroy everything that we have been given! Many of the wells from which our fathers drank have already been stopped! Think of it, there used to be a day when God’s people drank deeply from the well of praise and worship! The world has stopped that well by telling us that we should not be fanatics about Jesus. Our fathers opened for us the wells of Scripture, of salvation, of sanctification, of service, of the great fundamental doctrines of the faith! And the world has come along a tried to stop them up. Liberalism has tried to change our beliefs! There is a need right now for God’s people to re-dig the wells that the world has tried to stop up! We must contend for the old ways, if we do not, the old ways will die when we do!
V. 19-22 He Had To Contend For The New Wells - As he moved along in his pilgrimage, Isaac was always in the business of digging new wells. Every time he opened a well, his enemies tried to take it away from him. The water from the old wells were cool and refreshing, but more water was needed now. Therefore, new wells were dug! Three of those wells are mentioned here by name: 1. Esek - This word means “Contention”. 2. Sitnah - This word means “strife or hatred”. It has the idea of “laying in wait to ensnare someone”. The name Satan comes from the same root word. 3. Rehoboth - This word means “a wide open place”. It was at Rehoboth that the Philistines finally left Isaac alone! Everywhere the man went, he faced a fight! The Philistines tried to take that for which he had labored. The same is true in the world today. Look at the world, and you will see that they tried to take everything that belongs to the people of faith. They have highjacked Christmas and Easter. They even steal our language by talking about God in unspiritual and unscriptural ways . But, we must contend for the faith, (Jude 3). If we do not, then there will be not faith to pass down to the next generation, (2 Tim. 2:2), “Commit thou” means “to set before, or to set a table”.
For Isaac, the pilgrimage here was one fight after another! I can guarantee you that your journey through this world will not come without a fight as well. But, take a moment to look around you at the children. Then think outside the walls of this world about those who do not know the Lord Jesus. Remember, you are fighting for them! Every time we reopen a well the world has closed; every time we dig a new well for the needs of today; every time we defend the wells we have, we are serving the Lord, the lost and the little ones! It is a ministry that must be performed at all costs! If it isn’t soon, there will be nothing left to defend and nothing at all to pass down! We may have to fight for what our fathers believed and we may have to fight for what we believe, but the Lord watches over the whole matter and like he did for Isaac, He will make a place for you!
V. 23-25 IT IS A LIFE OF GREAT PRIVILEGES
Isaac enjoyed the Lord’s provisions in his life and he also experienced some problems as well. But, these last few verses in our text let us in on the fact that pilgrim life is also marked by its privileges.
V. 24 The Privilege Of Enjoying God’s Words - The Lord appeared to Isaac and renewed His promises once again! There is no greater privilege than that of experiencing the Lord’s presence and hearing His voice. We have been given His Word to speak to our hearts, (Ps. 119:105), but we have also been given His Spirit and He speaks to us as well, (John 16:13). It was the voice of God that got the attention of Elijah (1 Kings 19:12). When He speaks, His sheep know Him, (John 10:3-4). Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God ( Rom 10:17).
V. 25 The Privilege Of Enjoying God’s Worship - Isaac prepared an altar and went before his God in worship! This is a privilege enjoyed by those who know the Lord! What an honor it is to be able to enter into His presence to worship Him and to love Him, (John 4:23-24, Heb. 4:16)! When we stop to think of what we were before He found us...we bow in worship Him.
V. 25 The Privilege Of Enjoying God’s World - Isaac was able to pitch his tent in the place God had marked off for him and he dwelt there. He was enjoying the blessings of God even while journeying through a hostile land. It is becoming increasingly clear that God’s true church is not wanted in this world. This is not our home and the natives of this world do not like us being here. But, the Lord has a way of bringing His best into our lives as we travel along. While our hearts beat for Heaven, and our feet walk through this foreign land, our Father attends our way with His blessings and He makes the pilgrimage glorious!
V. 25 The Privilege Of Enjoying God’s Water - Isaac and his servants dug a final well and enjoyed the water that flowed from it. After all the work unstopping Abraham’s well and after all the fighting over the new wells, Isaac is given a well of water that is all his. God has a way of giving us exactly what we need just when we need it. As you pass through this world, look for you a well! The Lord said that when He save you, He placed a well within you, (John 4:14). It is a spiritual well that will never run dry. Still, we need to find ourselves drinking from a spiritual well that never runs dry. Take the time, as you pass through this world, to avail yourself of the spiritual refreshment the Lord had placed within easy reach. I’m talking about the Word of God and prayer! Those two things will refresh the soul quicker than anything else! Are you drinking from the well?
Conc: So, pilgrims, keep marching! Keep heading toward that city that captured the hearts of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, (Heb. 11:10). One day we will take the last faltering step down here and we will set foot on the shores of home. Until then, keep looking to Him for your provisions. Keep trusting Him through all the problems. And, keep thanking Him for all the privileges you enjoy as His child. There may be days when the journey is rough, but there will never be a day when it isn’t worthwhile! “We are pilgrims, not settlers; this earth is our inn, not our home.“-( J. H. Vincent). So, let’s not settle down. Rather, let’s settle in for whether our journey be long or short, it will be glorious!
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah Lyrics
Written by- William Williams
Guide me O Thou great Jehovah, pilgrim thro' this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou are mighty, hold me with Thy powerful hand;
Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more,
Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more.
Open now the crystal fountain, whence the healing waters flow;
let the fiery, cloudy pillar lead me all my journey thro';
Strong Deliverer, be Thou still my strength and shield,
Strong Deliverer, be Thou still my strength and shield.
When I tread the verge of Jordan, bid, my anxious fears subside;
bear me thro' the swelling current. land me safe on Canaan's side;
songs of praises I will ever give to Thee;
songs of praises I will ever give to Thee.
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