Monday, March 12, 2012
JOSEPH, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 3/12/2012
A ROSE AMONG THORNS, Lesson 39b
v. 3-4 THE PROMOTION OFJOSEPH’S LIFE,
These verses tell us a little about the atmosphere within the home of Joseph. It seems clear that Jacob was guilty of favoritism in his relationship with his children. We are clearly told that “Jacob loved Joseph more than all his children”.
Jacob should have known better than to do this. After all, he grew up in a home that was rife with favoritism. In his home, his mother Rebekah favored Jacob, while his father Isaac favored Esau. This favoritism brought envy, strife and trouble into that home. Parents in any age should be careful that they do not favor one child above another! Children should be treated as equals, as far as that is possible.
Jacob’s choice of Joseph did not result purely from a desire to elevate him above his brothers. It appears from the text that Jacob has chosen Joseph to be the head of the household on his death. This is indicated by two statements: “because he was the son of his old age” and “he made him a coat of many colors”. Let’s consider those two statements in greater detail.
The phrase “because he was the son of his old age” can refer to the fact that Jacob was 91 years old when Joseph was born. He had waited many years on a child from his beloved wife Rachel and when Joseph was born his heart’s desire was realized. But, there is another possibility.
The phrase can also be translated “because he was a white head on young shoulders”. This might mean that Jacob saw wisdom and strength of character in Joseph that was missing in the rest of his sons. Jacob is 108 when these events take place. He does not know how much longer he will live. He needs one of his sons to take over when he dies. The oldest son, Reuben, disqualified himself when he committed incest with Jacob’s concubine Bilhah, (Gen. 35:22). The oldest sons of Bilhah and Zilpah the handmaids would not have been his choice. The only choice that remained was Joseph, the eldest son of his favorite wife.
We are also told that Jacob made Joseph “a coat of many colors”. We always seem to picture this as being a little striped jacket that screamed “I’m special! Father loves me more than he loves you!” This garment said far more than that! The phrase translated “coat of many colors” literally refers to “a shirt with long sleeves”. This was a special type of garment what was multi-colored, and heavily ornamented. It would have had sleeves that reached all the way to the hands and the hem of the garment would have reached to the ankles.
It marked its wearer as a chieftain, or as the head of a clan. This type of garment was not worn by a common worker. It was only worn by overseers and royalty; those who were above work! This garment was worn by the heir!
When Jacob gave this coat to Joseph, it identified him as his father’s choice to be his replacement as the head of the family. It identified him as the superior son in the family. That coat told the other brothers, “You don’t report to Jacob any longer. You work for Joseph now!”
This was a big deal in families of that era. The head of the household literally held absolute, life and death authority over the members of the family. When the brothers of Joseph saw him wearing that garment, they knew exactly where they stood in the pecking order within the family!
Joseph carried himself well and he earned the respect of his father. As time went on, his father gave him more and more responsibility within the family. He carried himself so well, and proved himself to be so trustworthy, that his father appointed him to be the heir of his place as head of the family. By the way, this position would have also entitled Joseph to a double portion of his father’s inheritance.
All of this attention from Jacob toward Joseph created jealousy among his older brothers. In fact, we are told that they “hated him and could not speak peaceably to him”. The word “hated” is a very strong word. It has the idea of “persons or things that are detested and despised and with which one wishes to have no contact or relationship”. The brothers of Joseph wanted nothing to do with him at all. They could not even say “Shalom” when they met him. They didn’t have a kind word for Joseph. In fact, their hatred grew with each passing day, (v. 4, 5, 8, 11).
That’s a lot of background from the text, now let me make a few points of application before we move on. When we live a life of integrity and holiness, the Father notices. When we are faithful in our service to Him, He will promote us to greater areas of service, (Matt. 25:21). The true character of our heart is revealed in the faithfulness of our service to the Lord, (Luke 16:10).When we are promoted, we must not boast about our achievements. Any advancement in the spiritual realm is purely the good grace of God working in our lives, (John 1:26-30).
When others prosper and are promoted, we must guard against becoming jealous. Instead of being angry that they are progressing, we should be thankful for what the Lord is doing in their lives. Your true self is revealed in how you respond to the promotions, blessings, achievements and advancements of others! We just elected four new Elders from a list of six men. Four were chosen and two were not. The two were not selected demonstrated to me that they had the right kind of character for the job nonetheless. How? They did not get bitter, but they remained faithful to the Lord. They left the matter in God’s hands and trusted Him to do best.
TODAY’S HYM and BLESSING!
“Be Still, My Soul” by K. Von Schlegel (1752)
Be still, my soul; the Lord is on your side; Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; Leave to your God to order and provide; In every change he faithful will remain. Be still, my soul; your best, your heavenly Friend Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul; your God will undertake To guide the future as he has the past. Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake; All now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still, my soul; the waves and wind still know His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.
Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on When we shall be forever with the Lord, When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone, Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored. Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past, All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
INVITE A FRIEND TO THE TEAM!
Sunday, March 11, 2012
JOSEPH, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 3/11/2012
A ROSE AMONG THORNS, Lesson 39a
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 servant 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. I want 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 and 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 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).
Another 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!
“Purer In Heart, O God” By Fannie C. Davison (1877)
Purer in heart, O God, help me to be;
May I devote my life wholly to Thee:
Watch Thou my wayward feet,
Guide me with counsel sweet;
Purer in heart, help me to be.
Purer in heart, O God, help me to be;
Teach me to do Thy will most lovingly;
Be Thou my Friend and Guide,
Let me with Thee abide;
Purer in heart, help me to be.
Purer in heart, O God, help me to be;
Until Thy holy face one day I see:
Keep me from secret sin,
Reign Thou my soul within;
Purer in heart, help me to be.
INVITE A FRIEND TO THE TEAM!
Saturday, March 10, 2012
JACOB, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 3/10/2012
v.2-5 GOD’S COMMAND WAS HEEDED BY JACOB, Lesson 38b
Jacob knew that if he was going to get back to Bethel, some changes would have to be made in his life. By the way, 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? 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:
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!
They Cleansed Their Dirtiness: All filthiness, inward and outward had to be cleansed. A dirty life hinders worship (Psa. 66:18), a clean life brings blessing ( Psa. 24:3-4). God expects His people to turn away from the wickedness of the flesh ( Col. 3:5-11).
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; music; entertainment; etc. ( James 1:27; 1 Tim. 6:14).
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! 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! 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. 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 foe can prevent the honest heart from getting right with God ( Psa. 145:18, Pro. 8:170. 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. 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, preacher 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 there 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.
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!
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 teaches us nothing says we love the Lord like our obedience to His commands!
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 His first in their lives; who will give their all for Him and to Him.
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).
It Spoke Of Obligation - Jacob owed the Lord a debt of gratitude for all the Lord’s blessings upon his life. He paid 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! Some examples: Mary in John 12:1-8; and Mark 14:8.
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, 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 one the altar for God’s glory. It is those people who will enjoy the best God that 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 this all because Jacob obeyed God’s call and came back to Bethel. God will renew all the promises He has made in Jesus to you today.
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 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!
“Trust and Obey” By J. H. Sammis (1877)
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.
Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.
But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.
GIVE GOD ALL THE GLORY!
Friday, March 09, 2012
JACOB, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 3/9/2012
GETTING BACK TO BETHEL, Lesson 38a
Let me begin by asking a few questions today. Do you remember when you met God? Do you remember that moment when Jesus Christ became your Savior? Do you remember how you felt when Jesus saved you? Do you remember the thrill of those early days of serving God, when everything connected with God: the church, the Bible, worship, prayer, witnessing, etc., thrilled you beyond words? Do you remember how wonderful those early days of blessing were? Sure you do!
How many of us would have to be honest and say that memories are about all we have left? How many would have to say that the things of God just don’t thrill us anymore? That we really don’t care anything about going to church most of the time? That we can usually find something we would like to do instead? That reading the Bible, praying and telling others about Jesus just don’t thrill us anymore? That we would just like to be left alone to do as we please and serve God on our own terms?
It’s sad, but many believers are in that shape today! It’s evident on any Wednesday night. It can be seen during the Sunday School hour. It is clear in the worship services as silence reigns and deadness dominates. It is clear as dust gathers on altars where tears used to flow freely.
I want you who may be in this very condition today, to know that things do not have to stay the way they are. God has a plan for you and it is illustrated here in these verses concerning Jacob. God called Jacob back to Bethel. Bethel means “The House of God”, and it was at Bethel that Jacob first met the Lord.
Jacob was raised in a home by parents that knew God. In spite of that, every person must have a personal encounter with God. When Jacob met the Lord, he made some vows to God,( Gen. 28:19-22). It seems that these vows were not paid. Jacob may have forgotten, but God does not forget, (Eccl. 5:1-5)! In this passage, God is calling Jacob back to that place of the first blessing. He is calling him back to that place of beginnings; to that place where the things of God are fresh, living and exciting.
I am sure that I am speaking to some people today who had a good beginning with the Lord. You were saved by grace and you started out right. But, somewhere along the way, things went wrong in your walk with the Lord. You find yourself in a place today that you never envisioned. Well, my Brother, my Sister, God is calling you back to Bethel today.
He wants you to know that He is the God of the second chance. He is the God Who allows U-turns. He is the God Who loves you in spite of where your path in life may have taken you. God demonstrates those truths in His dealings with Jacob. I challenge you to allow Him to speak to your heart today. I want to point out a few truths from this passage as we look on the subject “Getting Back To Bethel“.
v.1 GOD’S COMMAND WAS HEARD BY JACOB
God called Jacob to come back to the place where He started for God. God’s command was for him to dwell there, build an altar and worship. It had been 20 years since his Bethel experience and Jacob had gotten far away from the Lord. He had gotten mixed up in idolatry. He had grown cold toward God; and now God is calling him home!
I think it is safe to say that many Christians find themselves in this same condition today! The things of God have become dead and the life of the Christian displays that deadness. This is not a new trend, for example, The church of Ephesus – (Rev. 2:1-7)!
If you are in that spiritual state today, God has a word for you. The word He has for you is the same counsel He had for the Ephesians believer.
Remember – Isa. 51:5; Eph. 2:1-4a; 11-12 – Think back to where the Lord found you and what He did for you when He saved you by grace. Remember, and realize that He deserves better than He is getting from most believers!
Return – God’s call to Jacob and to the Ephesians was “Return.” His call is the same to you and to me. When we wander away from Him, He tells us to come back. Thank God, He will receive us and He will restore us, (1 John 1:9); Like the Prodigal Son ( Luke 15:11-24)! When we return to Him, in humble repentance, He will return to us, (Mal. 3:7, James 4:8).
Repeat – God’s call to Jacob and to the Ephesians believers is exactly the same. They were to do the first works over again. In Gen. 28:16-22, Jacob met the Lord, and when he did, he began his walk with God by performing an act of worship. He humbled himself before the Lord. He called upon the name of the Lord. He dedicated his life to the Lord. Those early steps of commitment by Jacob were essentially the same as the acts of “first love” that God is speaking to the Ephesians about.
God is calling His people back to the place where He is first and foremost in their lives. He wants us to come back to the place where our souls are aflame with love for Him. Remember those days when just the mere mention of the name of Jesus was enough to bring tears to your eyes? Remember those days when “Amazing Grace” made you want to shout? Remember when you could think about Jesus dying on the cross, rising again from the dead, saving your soul by grace and nearly have a shouting spell? That is where the Lord wants to bring you back to! Remember when you loved the church, the Bible and the brethren? Remember when God was first, and He got your best? That is where He wants you to return to. God’s plan is for us to rekindle that deeply burning first love, rebuild the altars of our worship and serve Him faithfully!
Removal – The Ephesians believer are warned that if they fail to rekindle the old flame and love Jesus first, that they will face His chastisement. I just want to remind you that those who are saved by grace can fall from grace, (Gal 5:4)! You can be removed from the Lord’s family. But, you can count on this: if you choose to walk away from God, and you refuse to return to Him, you will face His judgment in your life! That is His Word; that is His promise ( Rev. 3:19; Heb. 12:5-11).
Here is a man who has not walked with the Lord as he should have for 20 years. But, I find it interesting that he can still hear the voice of the Lord. And, I am sure that there is no more miserable person in this world than a believer, who is away from the Lord spiritually, but who can still hear His voice and His call. How hard it must be to remember the good days of walking with the Lord, while being so far away from Him today. That must be how Adam felt when he heard the voice of the Lord walking in the garden, while he hid in shame because he was no longer right with the Lord, (Gen. 3:8-10)
You don’t have to live in that misery any longer! You can come home right now. You can return to the Father and He will receive you and forgive you, (1 John 1:9). He will restore you and bless you again! Can you hear Him calling you? Jacob did and his life took a new direction!
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“Turn My Heart “ By Lynn DeShazo (1992)
Turn my Heart, O Lord, like rivers of water,
Turn my heart, O Lord, by Your hand;
Till my whole life flows
in the river of Your Spi - rit
And my name brings honor to the Lamb.
Lord, I surren-der to Your work in me; I rest my life within Your lov - ing hands.
INVITE A FRIEND TO THE TEAM!
Thursday, March 08, 2012
JACOB, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH,3/8/2012
JUST A LITTLE TALK WITH JESUS, Lesson 37
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, as 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 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 today. 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, (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 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…. A theophany is a pre-Bethlehem appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ. The angel was unable to overcome Jacob. 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 - (Rom. 7:15-25). May I remind you that the old nature is not fit to live! It deserves on 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 practiced taking a convicted murderer into the 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 the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."
I challenge you to ask yourself, "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.
V. 25b-32 JACOB WAS VERY MUCH ALTERED
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. 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 - Notice:
He Was Clinging - Jacob is no longer fighting, he is merely holding on. If we insist on fighting the Lord and 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 - 2 Sam. 14:28-32). 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.
He Was Confessing - The angels demands to know Jacob's name. He forced to admit just who he is. Jacob = 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, (Psa. 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, (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! Saul who became Paul was worthless until he was broken before the Lord. But, once he was broken, the world was touched for Jesus! 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. 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 (Paul - Gal. 6:17) like the Law of the Bond-slave ( 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 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). Many of you know you have resisted His call, let this 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” By Adelaide Pollard (1902)
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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