Sunday, August 29 2021
- Good morning Church, We are in a sermon series entitled, The Journey… We have been looking at the life of Jacob and the deep work of transformation…that God is doing in the heart of Jacob...Over the last several months.. Pam has been using the Target Pick up service.…(One of the positive things that has come out of the pandemic).. Several weeks ago.. One of her little ones, Grayson wanted to go inside the store…I think he wanted a toy or something.. and so Pam tried to avoid all the tears ….. Pointed to the scaffolding on the outside of the building and said… .. Grayson look they are closed ..…so as it happens.. last week Pam had to go into the store with her children in tow....and Grayson... pipes up.…with some relief.. “Hey...Miss Pam .. “I’m so happy they’ve opened up the store again.”Children don’t forget.. do they...Jacobs life looks like that Target building with all the Scaffolding on the outside… it is messy…… it looks like its closed from the outside.. but there is major work being done on the inside..God is working on Jacobs character .…Jacob is being transformed and shaped from a— supplanter.. deceiver… heal grabber… to Israel... a prince of God.. and Man of God… God is working in-spite of the mess..This morning message is entitled “Staying the Course”The phrase “Staying the course"… is a nautical metaphor —It speaks of maintaining a constant, un- altering course… it… means holding onto the guy ropes that keeping the mainsail in a fixed position… regardless outside factors like the weather.Jacob and his family have drifted off course… … they got distracted…by interpersonal conflicts …We see in Genesis chapter 30.. That there is strife in their family because Jacob loved Rachael more than Leah… Favoritism never ends well in a family… it only cause deep hurt, strife and division..But in the middle of this conflict..God sees Leah and her struggle.. and He has compassion and opens up her womb… and...Leah has six of Jacobs children.. and Rachael who is barren for a time only has two Children ...Joseph and Benjamin.. and the other four children are from surrogate maid servants..Needless to say it is messy … there is a lot of scaffolding up… and it is difficult to see the work being done...There is underling problems… and it has to do with fear and lack of faith......instead of staying the course and allowing God to breathe into their sails .. they are driven by their insecurities… and instead of being guided by God’s wind of his Spirit.. they find themselves trying to control and manipulate situations… This is causing lot of heart ache.. and conflict.. in the family..Here is the thing… God is still in control...From the beginning.. God has plotted out their Journey… .The coordinates were already set..God in his Sovereignty through divine election ..chose Jacob.. to inherit the Abrahamic blessing.. and through Jacob and his seed would come the Messiah who bring blessing to nations...IN the same way… God is still in control today…and includes what is going on in the news with the global pandemic and geopolitics..Charles Swindoll said it well…“Anything under God’s control is never out of control.”— Charles SwindollGod in his Sovereignty has chosen and mapped out the plan…and you and I are part of the family of Blessing.One of the biggest question we ask in life… Is… What is my purpose? Why am I a here? Rick Warren in the Purpose driven life helpful list of 5 purposes… He says.You were planned for God’s Pleasure - to know Him and to Love HimYou were formed for God’s family- to find a home and be the family of God.You were created to become like Christ - that is to reflect the fruits of the spirit..You were Shaped to Serve God — to serve him with your unique gifts, talents, skills and passions.You were made for mission - and that mission is to introduce other people to God’s 5 purposes.That’s a great list… WE have been called with purpose...…and in order fulfil our mission and calling we have to walk in Faith and stay the course..T/s How do we stay the course ?1. Don’t lose Perspective of our Purpose.Perspective means everything…There is a story of a company who held an inter-office softball game held every year between the marketing and support staff.One year, the support staff whipped the marketing department soundly.The marketing department demonstrated how they earn their keep, they posted this memo on the bulletin board after the game:The marketing department is pleased to announce that we came in second place in the recent softball season, after losing but one game all year. The support department, however, had a rather dismal season, winning only one game."Our perspective matters..Last week we saw that Jacob met his match in Laban…Laban was a difficult - Father in Law… to say the least.. He treated every relationship like it was a transaction…… He took Advantage of Jacob having him work double wages pay for the wedding dowry of his daughters…The main purpose of the dowry was to provide security for his daughters in the future..But..Laban spent that money on himself… that is the kind of character Laban was..After 14 years of working for Laban… God spoke to Jacob and told him that is time for him and his family to leave and move back to Canaan…Jacob is looking for a smooth transition and he asks Laban to deal with him fairly ... He would like to leave with his family … his wives.. and children…and also would like the wages that are due him...Normally shepherds would contract for about 10 to 20 percent of the flock as payment … plus a percentage of the wool and milk products…So Jacob and Laban are back at the negotiation table… Laban is a masterful negotiator... this how he responds..Genesis 30:27–30 (ESV)27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your sight, I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you.28 Name your wages, and I will give it.”29 Jacob said to him, “You yourself know how I have served you, and how your livestock has fared with me.30 For you had little before I came, and it has increased abundantly, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I turned. But now when shall I provide for my own household also?”Laban starts off by acknowledging how valuable Jacob is to him and his family business.. What is interesting is that Laban consults some type of spiritualist .. he learns by divination… that his wealth has come through Jacob.…Jacob respond you know how valuable I am.. Why don’t you make me an offer?Laban is silent and he then puts the ball back into Jacobs court... What shall I give you? (name your price)And so Jacob caves in.... he says don't give me anything... but instead ... let me go through your flock and remove every speckled and spotted lamb and they will be my wages.. If we do this there will be no confusion of what belongs to who...At this point.. Laban can’t believe his luck..The reason is that Most sheep are white, and most goats are all one dark color, black or brown. Mottled and striped sheep and goats are an anomaly..Laban is ecstatic.. the negotiations couldn’t have gone better…34 Laban said, “Good! Let it be as you have said.”It is easy to imagine that Laban tried his best not to look smug. But ..once he got out of Jacob’s sight he began to smile, then chuckle to himself, and then roar with laughter.How foolish and Neive Jacob was…But Laban doesn’t stop there… The bible tells us... that same day Laban removed all striped and spotted flock from his heard .. and moved them to his sons who lived three days journey from Haran..... Laban wants to make sure that Jacob get nothing,..or as little of his wealth as possible,.T/s There are two perspectives..at work in our Narative..Laban is operating from a worldly perspective…where everything is measured in what we accumulate… Our sense value is tied to possessions, the success of our mission what we have don… our purpose tied to success.. This philosophy says…The purpose of life is about getting ahead…acquiring more and more...Jacob on the hand operating from a heavenly perspective of what God has revealed..We learn in chapter 31 that God had spoken to Jacob in a dream and revealed that was going to expand his wealth… He was going to do it… in an unexpected way..through the breading stripped and spotted… livestock…In reality Jacob wasn’t being Naive…but rather He is staying the Course.. He was following whatGod had revealed…LETS LOOK AT THE TEXT..11 Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am!’ 12 And he said, ‘Lift up your eyes and see, all the goats that mate with the flock are striped, spotted, and mottled, for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred.’ ”There some wonderful thoughts here..first.. God knows your name..The Lord calls Jacob by name… He responds here I am…God knew Jacob in the womb…He knew his destiny in womb…Like wise God knows your name… We are not numbers to God…we are individuals…Secondly God knows your need… He saw what Laban had done to him for fourteen years…God knows our deepest hurts… He knows our biggest concerns…and he knows our greatest fears..Thirdly… God will provide...When God first saw Jacob all alone.. he met him at Bethel.. gave him a promise… He would be with him through the journey..God saw Leah need… being unloved… always being sidelined and provides for her children a family…God sees the way Laban has treated Jacob… and now is going provide Jacob with his wages..God always provides. It may just look different than what we had in mind.God provide for Jacob in an unexpected way.. Through a speckled and spotted flock …After Laban moved all the spotted flock out of the heard --- Jacob needed a miracle… He knew it...We are told that Jacob began to take branches from almond and plane trees and peals back the bark --exposes the white flesh of the tree.. and he placed them in front of the watering troughs.. Whenever the strong flocks were breeding he stuck these light and dark sticks in front of the watering troughs.. and took them away for the weaker flocks.. In those days...It was commonly at the time believed that a strange sight could impact the embryo during time of breeding… by the way there is no scientific evidence that his happens..The only thing that makes sense in our text is that Jacob is doing things in his own strength…Dr. Ironside.. says...“Jacob’s Fleshly scheming is Needless scheming. God’s plans working out just the same.” Dr Ironside.This is theme that runs through the life of Jacob.. He is always trying to make things happen…Like Jacob have been called for purpose…and in order fulfil our mission and calling we have to walk in Faith and stay the course..T/s How do we stay the course ?1. Don’t lose Perspective of our Purpose.2. Don't Get Caught up in the DistractionsIt has been said that we are living in the age of distraction… Did you know that?64% of car accidents are caused by distracted driving.The average student can focus on a given task for only 2 minutes.The typical Internet user’s online screen focus lasts for an average of 40 seconds.We touch, swipe and tap our screens an average of 2617 times per day.We live a distracted world… and impacts our lives… more than we think..Genesis 31:1–3 (ESV)1 Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, “Jacob has taken all that was our father’s, and from what was our father’s he has gained all this wealth.”2 And Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him with favor as before.3 Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.”News gets to Jacob that Laban’s sons have become Jealous of his newly acclaimed wealth… and they accuse Jacob of stealing their father’s wealth…We we know that this isn’t true. because.. Jacob had a fair deal with Laban and had profited from the deal.What was really happening was the sons were jealous…they thought that Jacobs wealth meant that they would have less inheritance..Laban is influenced by his sons… We are told that Laban.. Countenance changed towards Jacob.... Laban allowed his sons to influence his feelings towards Jacob..Now this is where discernment is so important… Remember when Jacob arrived in Haran.… Laban welcomed Jacob him with open arms.. Laban said.... “You flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone.”This relationship had been strained.. and Laban’s heart has been hardened towards Jacob… We need to watch the hardening of hearts towards others..Jacob is now paying attention to God… God says it is time to move…Last week we talked about the importance of interpreting life… through sharpening our observation skills … then through asking the right questions- inductive questions…(What, when, where who and how) Now we can add to that discernment..We have to live with discernment… basic part of life...We must also clearly discern God’s will…We have all been face with...“What university should we go to?What major should we choose?Who should we marry? What job should we take?What type of schooling should we give our children?”Jacob notices the changes around him.. He is interpreting life.. observing.... discerning… and God speaks to him…and says now is time for you to plan to return to your family… and I will be with you.”There are lots of things that are going on around Jacob… and It would be easy to been distracted… He could have spent time defending himself from Laban and his son …He could of just hankered down and settled..But rather Jacob… pays attention to what God is saying…and he prepares his family to leave.Jacob does three things..1. Jacob shares His Story...Genesis 31:4–5 (ESV)4 So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah into the field where his flock was5 and said to them, “I see that your father does not regard me with favor as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me.… Jacob calls his two wives to meet with him in the field. He shares how God told him to return to his homeland. He also shares how he had worked hard for Laban, but Laban changed his wages ten times.There is something important about articulating in words our our mission… This is just as true for an organization as it is in our personal life..Even if means telling the story over and over again… The more we articulate our story the clearer and clearer our vision will become.. Next..2. Jacob listensGenesis 31:14–16 (ESV)14 Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, “Is there any portion or inheritance left to us in our father’s house?15 Are we not regarded by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and he has indeed devoured our money.16 All the wealth that God has taken away from our father belongs to us and to our children. Now then, whatever God has said to you, do.”Rachael and Leah now tell their story of how Laban had treated them like foreigners. They share how this made them feel… they felt like objects that sold and then Laban used up all the money without giving them any thing..Every one in the room knew the story…but articulating the vision and mission is important.. The reason is that when we tell our story we discover our mission… and it will define what we ought to be doing in the future...… One of the things that God put on my heart in the last few year is the importance of community engagement… Every church knows its mission.. Matt 28:18 Go into all the world and make disciples...Our unique mission is tied to our story… When they listed to each other it built consensus… Think about all the interpersonal conflict in this house.. but now they had agreement..Rachael and Leah agree with Jacob and as a family together plan to escape...Thirdly..3. It is a Coordinated Effort…Jacob knew Laban’s character …He would never let them go… He and his family has to plan an escape..17 So Jacob arose and set his sons and his wives on camels. 18 He drove away all his livestock, all his property that he had gained, the livestock in his possession that he had acquired in Paddan-aram, to go to the land of Canaan to his father Isaac.When Jacob moved to Haran…he was on his own…but over 20 years he had accumulated .. Two wives.. a family of 11 at this point and all …flocks and herds… He was going to travel 550 miles…There is a lot of moving pieces...This takes planning and collaboration and action..Francis Chan tells us that.True discipleship involves deep relationships. Jesus didn’t simply lead a weekly Bible study. He lived life with His disciples and taught through actions as well as words. -Francis ChanHow do we avoid being distracted ?1. Don’t loose Perspective of your Purpose2. Don't Get Caught up in the distraction.3. Don’t Forget What God has Spoken.Some of you might know our little Chouwow..Ace…Unfortunately..He sees himself as the door keeper at our house …kind of Lord of the Manor... and he is true to his breed and very protective…Over the last several months... I started giving Ace an evening snack...he caught on to this new habit ... he doesn't just like it ... he loves it... Every evening around 8:00 pm.. Ace appears in the living room.. and he just stares at me... and if after 20 minutes nothing has happened.. He starts moving his bowl around!! If that doesn’t work he jumps on my lap and try’s to lick my face… to let me know it’s snack time.… two things he he never forgets… and never gives up...If we are going to Stay the course we we must hold on to what God has said.. ... pay attention to Gods wordIt took a few days before Laban hears the news that Jacob has Fled…Laban immediately pursues Jacobs family for seven days until he caught up...During Laban’s Journey God stops him and warns him to.. “be careful how you handle yourself... don't say anything good or bad.”.Laban catches up to Jacob.. and he confronts Him… He says...Why did you leave without me saying good bye to my daughter … I would have brought out the tambourines and thrown a farewell party… You didn’t even let me say goodby to my daughters and grandchildren...Jacob answers Laban..Genesis 31:31 (ESV)31 Jacob answered and said to Laban, “Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force.Which we all know is what exactly what would have happened.. But now the Jacob stands up to Laban and he says.. Four 20 years I served you faithfully and during this time you changed my wages 10 times..Genesis 31:42 (ESV)42 If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night.”At the end of the Day… Jacob was able to confront his fears… because He realized that God was for Him… God had provided him a family… God had provided him his wealth… God had provided a way of escape… If it wasn’t for the Lord …I would have been left with nothing..HOW DO WE STAY THE COURSE?.WE HAVE TO not forget WHAT GOD HAS SPOKEN..This is not a very tidy story… we don’t have a Hollywood ending..We learn that Laban never apologizes... to Jacob... he still claimed that JACOBS flocks and daughters belonged to him..They come to an impasse...the best next thing is to make an agreement...45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. 46 And Jacob said to his kinsmen, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there by the heap.The heap of stones was to be a witness of their agreement.. It was also going to serve as a boundary line..... Laban says look after my daughters.. But ... don't cross my boundary line.. and I wont' cross your boundary..Kent huges..This was the declaration of two men who neither trusted nor liked each other—“Because I don’t trust you out of my sight, may God watch your every move.”We learn from Jacob and Laban that there are some relationships will not be reconciled… It doesn’t mean that we don’t try… We are going to see that Esau and Jacob are going to be reconciled…But there comes a time… when clear boundary lines need to be set..The musician and song writer Tobby Mac… said this..“Sometimes you need to burn bridges to stop yourself from crossing them again.” - Toby McKeehanConclusion:Jacobs story resinates with us… because it’s a human struggle.…and there will be times when we get lost and we loose our grip on the guy ropes… and we drift...Charles Spurgeon tells us that what to do when this happens...Spurgeon says..Look at the faith of the master mariner! He looses his cable, he streams away from the land. For days, weeks, even months, he sees neither sail nor shore, yet on he goes day and night without fear, till one morning he finds himself exactly opposite the desired haven toward which he has been steering.How has he found his way over the trackless deep? He has trusted his compass, his nautical almanac, his glasses, and the heavenly bodies; and obeying their guidance, without sighting land, he has steered so accurately that he has not changed a point to enter port.In other words — when you get lost --- Don’t loose sight of God…1. Don’t loose Perspective of your Purpose2. Don't Get Caught up in the distraction.3. Don’t Forget What God has Spoken.Don’t operate in Fear… but rather ...Trust God with the details.Lets Pray..
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