Friday, January 20, 2012
JOSEPH, Following In The Footsteps of Faith, 1/20/2012
Genesis 37:1-11, A ROSE AMONG THORNS, Part 5a
In our first message on Joseph, we took a hard look at his background. We discovered that his family was marked by vice and violence. This godly man grew up in some most ungodly soil. I am still amazed that God could take a young man from such a background and use him like He did.
That gives me hope as a parent, a Christian and as a person today. If God can do that with Joseph, then He can take my children use them for His glory. If He can do that with Joseph, He can take your children and use them. If He can do that with Joseph, He can take you and me and use us for His glory! Of course, if you read the Bible you will soon discover that God specializes in taking what appears to be nothing and making something magnificent out it.
As we begin to consider the verses in the Bible that speak about the life of Joseph, we are going to see just how different he was from the rest of his family. It is astounding that a young man who grew up in the same home, the same condition, the same environment as his brother, could be so different. Of course, if you have more than one child, or if you come from a family of more than one child, you have seen this with your own eyes. No two children are alike. Joseph, however, is so different that he literally stands out like A Rose Among Thorns. Allow me to take the first eleven verses of this chapter and show you the ways Joseph was different from his brothers. I want to show you, “ A Rose Among Thorns“.
v. 2 THE PURITY OF JOSEPH’S LIFE
One of the most striking ways Joseph was different was in the purity of his life. Every time you see Joseph, he is doing the right thing. This made him very different from his brothers. Purity, integrity and a desire to do the right things at all times marked the life of Joseph.
Verse 2 brings us faced to face with the holy heart that beat within the chest of Joseph. We are told that Joseph was tending to his father’s sheep with his half-brothers, the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah. You might remember that Bilhah was Rachel’s handmaid and Zilpah was Leah’s handmaid. These two women had been given to Jacob by his wives and he had fathered two children with each. The sons of Bilhah were Dan and Naphtali. The sons of Zilpah were Gad and Asher.
As you read the story, you get the impression that this is the first time that Joseph has been sent out to work with these men. What he saw them doing must have shocked him deeply. This may have been Joseph’s first exposure to the vile nature of his brothers. The brothers of Joseph were an evil bunch. Among other things, they were guilty of murder, (Gen. 34:25); incest, (Gen. 35:33); hatred, (Gen. 37:4); envy, (Gen. 37:11); enslaving their brother, (Gen. 37:38); lying, (Gen. 37:31-33); and immorality, (Gen. 38:12-18).
Whatever it was that these men were doing, it shocked Joseph so much that he came and told Jacob. This event surely caused problems between Joseph and the rest of his brothers. It may have been the seed plot where the root of bitterness in the hearts of his brothers began to grow.
Some authors accuse Joseph of being a talebearer. They believe that Joseph brought about the hatred of his brothers because he acted like a “goody two-shoes”. In reality, Joseph displayed absolute integrity in going to his father with the evil report concerning his brothers. Joseph had a responsibility to his father. Whatever his brothers were doing, it involved the flocks of Jacob. Thus, it involved his good name in the area. He needed to know what was going on with his sons. Joseph did the right thing when he went to Jacob and told him about the evil deeds of his brothers.
There are some lessons in this verse that we need to take to heart today. Every one of our lives should be marked by purity. The God we serve is a holy God and He expects His people to be a holy people, (1 Pet. 1:16; 2 Cor. 6:17). He wants us to stand separate from this world and its evil ways. He wants us to be different. We should be different in the way we act, talk, think, live, etc. Purity should be the hallmark quality of our lives!
It isn’t easy, but we should always strive to do the right thing in every situation. Our lives should be marked by integrity. There are plenty of people who are willing to do the wrong thing, especially if it makes life easier for them, but we should always do right in spite of the personal cost. It would have been easier for Joseph to just cover up what his brothers were doing. It would have been easier still to have joined them in their sin. But, he was determined to do the right thing, even if it cost him everything. It’s easy to tell a “little white lie” to keep the heat off your life. Don’t do it! Tell the truth! It’s easy to cheat a little here and there to make things easier for yourself. Don’t do it! Always be above board in all your dealings. It’s easy to cut corners at school and at work so you will fit in with the crowd. Don’t do it! Do the right thing at all costs (Eph. 6:5-9)!
One other lesson has to do with the proper use of the tongue. We should never be guilty of being a talebearer, (Lev. 19:16; Pro. 26:20-22). If there is something you just must tell, be sure that you tell the right person. Jacob had a right to know what his sons were doing, so Joseph told him and him alone! He told his father in an effort to stop evil. A gossip always tells the wrong person. They are not trying to stop evil, but to spread it! If you must tell something, always tell the truth. That is just what Joseph did. He did not embellish the facts; he simply told things as they were. Gossips love to add or subtract from the details as it suits their agenda.
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
Rise Up, O Men of God
Text: William P. Merrill, 1911
Music: Aaron Williams, 1763
1. Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and mind and soul and strength
to serve the King of kings.
2. Rise up, O men of God!
The kingdom tarries long.
Bring in the day of brotherhood
and end the night of wrong.
3. Rise up, O men of God!
The church for you doth wait,
her strength unequal to her task;
rise up, and make her great!
4. Lift high the cross of Christ!
Tread where his feet have trod.
As brothers of the Son of Man,
rise up, O men of God!
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW!
Thursday, January 19, 2012
JACOB and JOSEPH, Following In The Footsteps of Faith, 1/19/2011
THE HEARTBREAK OF A SHATTERED DREAM, Part 4b, Continued From Yesterday!
v. 18-30 THE BROTHER’S DEPRAVITY
v. 18-20 The Brother’s Plot – When Joseph arrives in Dothan his brothers see him coming. The hatred began in their hearts had found fertile soil and had grown into a desire to murder their own brother. Had these men arrested sin when it first began to grow in their hearts, this whole episode would have been avoided. But they didn’t! They allowed dislike to grow into full blown hatred and a desire for murder.
The true nature of these men is on full display in these verses. First, they have a desire in their hearts to kill Joseph. They hate him so much that they are willing to put him to death to get rid of him! Then they ridicule him because of his words. They call him “this dreamer”. There is not a hint of brotherly love in their voices. They are so calloused that they want to kill him and toss his body into a pit! They even devise a plan to cover up their deed! They believe that they can derail Joseph’s dreams if they can just kill him. These brothers have no concept of the sovereign power of God!
Of course, this is what men planned, and what happen to Jesus when He came. The people He came to save rejected Him, (John 1:11), and hated Him for His words, (Matt. 26:65-66). They rejected His message and they desired to see Him dead. They believed that killing Jesus would put an end to His message. They were dead wrong! Oh, they saw to it that He died, but they couldn’t see that His death would accomplish more than His life. They could not see that He would get up from the dead three days later. We would all do well today to examine our hearts. If there are the seedlings of sin that are beginning to grow in our souls, they need to be removed now. If they are left alone, they will grow into mighty trees with deep roots. Getting them out will be hard work and will leave incredible damage behind. Remember, it’s “the little foxes that spoil the vines”, (Song 2:15).
v. 21-25a Reuben’s Proposal – Reuben displays his nature too. He is weak and vacillates from one position to another, (Gen. 49:4). He is like water, totally unstable. On the one hand he has more reason to hate Joseph than any of the other brothers. He knows that Joseph has been chosen to take his place as the head of the family. On the other hand, Reuben knows that he has a responsibility to protect his little brother, if at all possible. He tells the rest that they should not kill Joseph, but just throw him in a pit in the desert and let him die of starvation and thirst. Of course, Reuben is planning to rescue Joseph when the other brothers are not around. Again, the hatred of the rest of the brothers is evident in the fact that they were willing to go along with this plan. What a wicked bunch of men this was!
v. 25b-28 Judah’s Plan – These men are so calloused that they throw their brother into a pit and then sit down to eat their lunch. There is no record of Joseph’s crying or begging for help in these verses, but Gen. 42:21 makes it clear that Joseph cried out and they turned a deaf ear to his pleas. Apparently, Reuben had to leave and go elsewhere. And while he is gone some Midianite merchants pass by. They are heading toward Egypt to sell their wares. Judah convinces the other brothers that they should at least sell Joseph and not kill him. After all, he is their brother, (v. 27). The rest of the brothers like this idea and that is just what they do. Joseph is sold for “twenty pieces of silver”, (v. 28). That was the price of a crippled slave. His brothers sold him like he was a piece of trash! They sold him for 8 ounces of silver! This comes to $98.24 in today’s money!
The brothers are so unfeeling and so filled with hatred for Joseph that they sell him to the merchants and watch him hauled away as a common slave! Ps. 105:17-18 tell us that Joseph’s experience as a slave was anything but pleasant! Again, Joseph is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was hated by His brethren and He was also betrayed by someone who should have loved Him. He also was betrayed for the price of a slave,( Matt. 26:15-16). Praise the Name of the Lord that He loved us so much that He endured such shame and hatred and still He died to save people like us! (Heb. 13:2-3)!
v. 29-30 Reuben’s Panic – When Reuben returns, he finds that Joseph is gone! He panics because he knows his father will blame him. Reuben has been on the outs with Jacob ever since he committed adultery with his father’s wife Bilhah. These verses give us a little hope that Reuben is maturing into something resembling a leader.
v. 31-35 JACOB’S DESPAIR
v. 31 The Brother’s Scheme – Again, these brother conspire together to cook up a plan. This time, they are out to deceive their father. They take the despised coat and dip it in the blood of a goat and take home to Jacob. One lie always leads to another! When you tell an untruth, it will not be long before you will have to cover the first by telling a second and then a third and then a fourth. The best policy is to always tell the truth, regardless of the personal cost!
v. 32 The Brother’s Severity – There is no compassion for their father in their words. They bring him the bloodstained coat and they ask him to identify it. These men have no heart! They care for nothing but themselves and their own advancement in the family! The world is filled with people just like that. They do not care who they have to step on to achieve their goals. They do not care what they have to do to reach the top of the heap. They care for nothing but getting their own way all the time, and they do not care who they hurt in the process.
Something is desperately wrong with a person like that! Most likely they are not saved. Most definitely they are not displaying Christ-likeness in their life. Our walk with the Lord is to be marked by a desire to place others ahead of self, (Phil. 2:3-4). Our walk is to be marked by a desire to ease the burdens borne by others, (Gal. 6:2). Our walk is to be marked by a Christ-like love for those around us, ( Matt. 22:39; 1 John 3:14; 4:8; 4:20).
v. 33-35 Jacob’s Sorrow – Of course, Jacob recognizes the coat. He knows it belongs to Joseph and he immediately assumes that his beloved son is dead, having been killed by wild animals. Jacob is heartbroken falls into the depths of despair. He refuses to be comforted by his family, vowing to grieve to the day he joins Joseph in death. These cold, calloused men have broken their father’s heart and they do not care!
v. 35 The Brother’s Shame – These hardhearted men reveal their hypocrisy by trying to comfort their father in his grief. Not a single one of these cowards had the courage to stand up and tell Jacob the truth! In the end, however, their father was in better shape than they were. He lived every day with grief; they lived every day with guilt! The knowledge of what they had done ate at them until they faced Joseph with the truth years later.
That is the power of guilt! It will eat at you until the problem is dealt with. The best thing you and I can do with our wrongs is to make them right if we can. We need to apologize to people we have offended. We need to restore what we have taken. We need to get honest about our sins. That is the only way to get rid of guilt, (1 John 1:9; Pro. 28:13).
Conc: This is a sad place to step out of this story. Joseph is gone, sold as a slave, and headed off to Egypt in chains. Jacob is heartbroken and inconsolable. The beloved son of his wife Rachel; his choice to be the head of his family upon his death is gone. The brothers are guilty of a terrible sin against their brother, their father, their family and their God. They are being eaten alive by guilt. A prosperous, promising family has been plunged into the depths of gloom and hopelessness. It would appear that Joseph’s great dreams are at an end. They will never come to pass. At least, that’s what they think!
Behind the scenes of this terrible tragedy moves the unseen hand of God’s sovereignty. What appears to be a hopeless situation is merely setting the stage for hope in the future! There is a word here for us as well! There will be times when things appear hopeless. There will be times when the shattered pieces of our dreams will lie all around us. In times like that we must not despair! Instead, we must cling to the precious promises of our great God, (Rom. 8:28; Ps. 37:23; Job 23:10). We must understand that despite how things appear to our human eyes and reasoning, God has a plan and nothing can derail that plan!
Some of you are looking at what you think are shattered dreams right now. What are you going to do with them? Are you going to weep and mourn like Jacob? Or, are you going to cling to God’s promise and trust that the Judge of all the earth will do right? Bring your shattered dreams to Jesus right now and let Him give you help in dealing with them. Let Him give you hope in hanging on to them. We do not want to miss Jesus in all this! The people He came to, the nation of Israel rejected Him and pushed Him away. They pushed Him and pushed Him until they had pushed Him to an old rugged cross. When they saw Him die, they claimed the victory, while His disciples grieved over a certain defeat. Just like Joseph’s brothers, the very one (Israel) who they desired to kill turned out to be their Savior! They threw the Savior into the pit of death and buried His body. Three days later, He came out of that tomb victorious over all His enemies! He fulfilled the dreams of the Father and of His followers. He fulfilled your dreams and mine too. Do you have any dreams you need help with today? If so, come talk them over with Jesus right now!
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“LIVING BY FAITH” by James Wells and J. L. Heath (1916)
I care not today what the morrow may bring, If shadow or sunshine or rain,
The Lord I know ruleth o’er everything, And all of my worries are vain.
Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arm,
I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.
Though tempests may blow and the storm clouds arise, Obscuring the brightness of life, I’m never alarmed at the overcast skies— The Master looks on at the strife.
I know that He safely will carry me through, No matter what evils betide;
Why should I then care though the tempest may blow, If Jesus walks close to my side.
Our Lord will return for His loved ones some day, Our troubles will then all be o’er;
The Master so gently will lead us away, Beyond that blest heavenly shore.
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.
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