- Sermon Notes
Transformation at Heaven’s Gate
Genesis 28 is a lesson in transformation.The story centers on Jacob.He was the second born of twins, and as he was being born, he had hold of his brother Esau’s heel, so they called him “heel snatcher,” or in other words, supplanter, one who trips people by catching them by the heel.
Unfortunately, he lived up to his name.When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a peaceful man, living in tents.One day when Jacob had cooked stew, Esau came in from the field and was famished; and Esau said to Jacob, “Please let me have some of that red stew there, for I am famished.”But Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.”
Now, it’s Esau’s bad here also, because he didn’t value his birthright and sold it far too easily.His birthright for a bowl of stew? Really? Jacob took advantage of Esau’s hunger; he caught him by the heel, you might say, and took his birthright.
Then later, when their mother, Rebekah, overheard Isaac plotting to give the blessing that goes with that birthright to Esau, she hatched a plan so that Jacob would deceive Isaac into giving the blessing to him instead.
When Esau discovered they had deceived Isaac and that Jacob had received Isaac’s blessing, he became enraged and made it known that as soon as Isaac had passed away, he would kill his brother Jacob.
That’s where we pick up our story in Genesis 28.Rebekah knows Esau intends to kill Jacob, so she used her influence as a wife to convince Isaac to send Jacob away that he might find a wife amongst her relatives 500 miles away in Haran.A perfectly rational explanation; a great cover for why Jacob must run for his life.
Jacob, the supplanter, the heel snatcher, leaves behind the inheritance he took from his brother; he leaves his home, and his family with nothing.All his conniving and heel catching has caught up with him.What he needs, what anyone needs who has been living by their own clever means, is an encounter with God.That is the key to transformation and that is the lesson from this chapter.
I. Running from Troubles Doesn’t Work
- Jacob is on the run from Esau, but in reality, it’s God he’s been running from for a long time.
- Abraham was called the friend of God, Isaac was instructed by God, but Jacob has never known God for himself, and the results are clearly seen in his life.
- There’s an old saying; “God has no grandchildren.” It means that each person must have his own relationship to God.You can’t ride on the relationship your spouse has with God, or your father or your mother, each person must have their own relationship to God.
A.We must come to the end of ourselves
- Jacob’s cunning was finally catching up to him.
- The consequences of what was in his heart were chasing him, and he was on the run.
- He had to leave the mother he loved, he deceived his father, and his brother wants to kill him. In other words, conflict and heartbreak was all around him and he didn’t have the character to resolve anything, instead he kept making it worse.
- Jacob could not have felt good about himself when he was receiving that blessing from his father Isaac. That was a sneaky and deceiving thing to do and you can be sure the Holy Spirit was convicting his heart. That’s what the Holy Spirit does…
- John 16:7-9, “but if I go, I will send the Holy Spirit to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;
- God allows us to come to the end of ourselves.
Illus – Many people are tempted at the thought of leaving their troubles behind and starting over. They say to themselves, “Everything is so messed up that it would be better to throw in the towel and start over.”
The problem I have found with this approach is this; “wherever you go, there you are.” In other words, you take yourself with you wherever you go and therefore, when you leave, you take the real problem with you.
App – Verse 11 says that he came to a “certain place.” It wasn’t just another place; it was where Jacob was going to come to the end of himself. It was the perfect place.
- Just because times are bad doesn’t mean God isn’t doing anything. If God allows you to come to the end of yourself, then God is doing something important.
A.You can’t outrun God
- You can be sure that God had been working on Jacob’s heart, but Jacob wasn’t listening.
Illus – Jacob had been hitting ‘ignore’ on his cell phone for a long time. Cell phones were a great invention and when they first came out they had an “ignore” button.When our kids started getting cell phones, however, I told them this one very important rule, “When I call, you don’t hit the ‘ignore’ button.The most important call you’re ever going to receive is the one from your mom or me.You drop everything to take that call.”
- When God is trying to get your attention, it would be good to not ignore it. God tries to get our attention because He has a much better plan for our lives, if we would just stop running from God.
Illus – One of the best illustrations of this is Jonah. Asked to go to Nineveh and bring the word of God, he went the opposite way toward Tarshish in what is now Spain. The ship then encounters a terrible storm – time to meet God!
You think you’re running away from God, but God is there waiting for you!
Jonah 2:3-4, “All Your breakers and billows passed over me. So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Your sight. Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.’”
- Soon he is giving thanks to God!
Illus – Saul, later we know him as Paul – kicking against the goads; God had to knock him off his high horse; literally… Then came revival.
Acts 9:11, And the Lord said to Ananias, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying,”
II.We Need an Encounter with God
- Jacob comes to a certain place and lays down to sleep, but God is there ready to reveal Himself to Jacob.
- This is what we need. We need to come to the end of ourselves and have a “come to Jesus” meeting!
A. His kindness leads us to repentance
- God shows Jacob a ladder between the earth and heaven with angels ascending and descending.
- He then gives Jacob the blessing He gave to Abraham and to Isaac. Through the descendant of Jacob, “All the families of the earth will be blessed.” And, “I will be with you…”
- Notice he didn’t lecture, condemn, or rebuke…
Romans 2:4, Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
App – God knows that we must change the desire of our heart. Change comes when we desire what God wants for us. But we must willingly come.
- The problem for some, however, is that they would rather feel badly about themselves. It’s a form of self inflicted punishment…
Illus – In the old days people used to sit in a little round tub to take a bath. The problem was that they were sitting in their own dirty water. It’s a picture of wallowing in self pity.
- There is something somewhat comforting in self pity, is there not?
Illus – I remember breaking up with a girlfriend, okay, she broke up with me, and wallowing in my “feelings?” I would take a long drive and put in the 8-track of Engelbert Humperdinck singing, “Feelings, nothing more than feelings, trying to forget my, feelings of love… tear drops, rolling down on my face.”
A.God has a wonderful plan for your heart
- There was a famous gospel tract called the Four Spiritual Laws and one of those spiritual laws said, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.”
- The problem as I saw it was that people were looking for God’s plan for their lives more than they were wanting a personal relationship with God.
- The transformation of God in us is centered on what God is doing to bring us to a personal relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ.
- God has a wonderful plan for your heart, to transform you by His Word.
Romans 12:2, And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
Philippians 1:6,being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
- Jacob awoke and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”
- You think you’re in a hard place, a place filled with rocks, you even have a rock for a pillow, but you’re not alone; God is in that place.
Psalm 23:4, Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 139:5, 7-8, 10, You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me… Where can I go from Your Spirit?Or where can I flee from Your presence?If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there… Even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me.
App- Jesus is the connection between heaven and earth and His Spirit is filling our hearts and moving in the church even now.
Illus – In John 1, Jesus was calling Nathanael…
John 1:48-51, Nathaniel said to Him, “How do You know me?”Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you are under the fig tree, I saw you.”Nathaniel answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.”Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe?You will see greater things than these.”And He said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
A. Respond with sincere worship
- Jacob’s response is powerful to see. He rises early, filled with awe of God, and sets up an altar to worship God. He then calls that place Bethel, or ‘house of God.’
- Worship is the right response of the heart to what God has done. We were made for worship because in worship we give a response to God for all He has done for us.
- There were then three parts in Jacob’s responding in worship.
- First, he set up an altar – here’s my heart.
- Second, he looked to God to be with him and help him along the way – here’s my life.
- He committed a tithe of all that he had – here’s my worship in trusting you with all that I have.
App – when we receive tithes and offerings we make a point of reminding people that this is part of our worship in thanking God for His blessing and provision in our lives.
- Lastly, in Genesis 29:1, it says, “Jacob lifted up his feet and came to the land of the sons of the east.”
- I love the picture that gives of Jacob now going forward in life convinced that God is with him.
Transformation at Heaven’s Gate
June 23-24, 2018
Genesis 28 is a lesson of transformation. The story focuses on Jacob. We’ve been studying through Abraham, and his son Isaac, and Isaac married Rebecca. Sovereign hand of God through all of that is revealed. Though she gets then pregnant and she has twins. It tells us that, inside of her womb that the twins are struggling and wrestling and so she inquires of the Lord, “What is happening here?” The Lord gives her this word, that there are two nations within her, and that the older would serve the younger.
In other words, the blessing of Abraham would be handed to Isaac, and then would be given to the younger one, who was Jacob. When Jacob was born, as he came forth, he actually had a hold of his older brothers heel Esau. You can just imagine the scene, “Look at that. That is so cute. Look at the little baby, he’s got a hold of his brother’s heel. What shall we call him? I know one that’s due. That is so cute. Let’s call him heel snatcher, which means supplanter. In other words, one who trips other the people up by catching them on the heel. “That is so cute. What a cute name for a boy.” Yes, until he grows up, and then he starts living up to that name of catching people by the heel. Living by that kind of life.
We saw the story. We were seeing it last week when the boys grew up. Esau, the older one. He’s outdoors-man, he’s a skilled hunter, he’s a man’s man and, and Jacob, it says he was a peaceful man living intense. In other words, he was a mama’s boy. One day when Esau came in from the field, he was famished, and Jacob had made a red lentil stew. Esau sees this and smells this stew and he says, “Give me some of that red stew there I’m famished.” Jacob, seeing an opportunity to do some heel snatching says to him, “Sell me your birthright first.” “Birthright, for a bowl of stew really?”
Now, you see it’s Esau’s bad here too because he didn’t value his birthright. He sold it far too easily. Really? A birthright for a bowl of stew? Jacob is taking advantage. He’s heel snatching. He’s taking advantage of Esau’s hunger, and he cut him by the heel and he took his birthright. Then later, Rebecca overhears Isaac plotting to give the blessing that goes along with that birthright to Esau the older one. Even though Isaac knew full well that the blessing of Abraham should be given to the younger one. He knew that full well, but he liked Esau. Esau was a man’s man, and he would bring home game and Isaac had a taste for game, and so he plotted to give the blessing to Esau.
Rebecca overheard this, and so she hatched a plan by which Jacob would deceive, do a little more heel snatching in order to deceive Isaac into giving the blessing to him. He’s almost blind is. He’s so old, and so she puts on like a goat skin on his neck, and on his hands, because Esau was hairy, and he pretends to be Esau, and he ends up getting the blessing through deception. Esau, when he finds out about it, is enraged. He makes it very clear. When our father Isaac has died, I’m going to kill my brother Jacob.
That’s where we pick up our story in Genesis 28. Rebecca, the mother, she knows that Esau intends to kill Jacob. She uses some of her wifely influence to convince Isaac to send Jacob away that he might find a wife amongst her relatives 500 miles away in Haran. A perfectly rational explanation. A great cover for why Jacob now must run for his life. How does she use her wifely influence? She adds a little drama, and she says this. She says, “I’m going to die if my son Jacob takes a wife from these Canaanite women here. I would rather die than to see that he marry one of these hussies women around here”. Jacob, he gives into this pressure. That’s where we pick it up in Genesis 28:1, let’s read it.
“Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and he charged him and he said, “You will not take your wife from the daughters of Canaan.” Help me out here, “And you go, arise. Go to Paddan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father, and from there you are to take to yourself a wife from the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother.” Now, if you know anything about Laban. Laban is quite the manipulator himself, and some people see a little poetic justice coming here as he’s sending him to Laban. Then he adds this amazing blessing. He’s giving him that blessing from Abraham to Isaac, and now to Jacob.
“May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you that you may become a company of people. May He also give you the blessing of Abraham. To you and to your descendants with you, that you may possess this land. The land of your sojournings which God gave to Abraham.” We know it today as Israel. That blessing passed down to generation, to generation and resides on Israel today. Then Isaac sent Jacob away, and he went to Paddan Aram, to the area, to Laban, son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebecca, the mother of Jacob and Esau.
Jump down to verse 10 if you would, “Then Jacob departed from Bathsheba, which is where they were living, Bathsheba is in the South part of Israel toward the Mediterranean,” although it’s still deserty there. He departed for Haran, more than 500-mile journey. He came to a certain place and he spent the night there because the sun had set. He took one of the stones of that place and put it under his head, and he laid down in that place. Most people would not use a stone, but he found a stone and needed something to lay his head on, so he did this.
Then it says, he had a dream. This dream is so amazing. God is going to speak to him, and it’s so vivid, so real. He had this dream. Behold there was a ladder that was set or stairs, as you might say, that was set on the earth with its top reaching the heaven, and behold, angels of God ascending and descending on it. This is the famous Jacob’s ladder. The stairway to heaven. A picture that we have. It’s so significant because it is actually brought back to us in the New Testament, which we’ll look at. It’s amazing.
Then behold, the Lord stood above it and he said, “I am Jehovah. I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac, and the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth. You will spread out to the West, and East, and the North, and the South. In you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
We are recipients of that because he’s referring to Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world. We receive that blessing through Jesus. Behold, verse 15 is so key. These promises are promises that he speaks to Jacob, but that we can see also apply to our lives. He said, “Behold, I’m with you, and I will keep you wherever you go, and I’ll bring you back to this land for I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you.” I just love that great statement of promise. “I will not leave you until I have done what I have said I will do”
Then, Jacob awoke from his asleep and he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place. I didn’t know it. I did not know it.” He was afraid and he said, “How awesome is this place. This is none other than the house of God. This is the gate of heaven.” Jacob rose early in the morning and he took the stone which he had put under his head, and he set it up as a pillar, and he poured oil on its top, which is a way of designated as an altar place where God’s presence resides, and he called the name of that place Bethel, which means House of God.
By the way, Bethel that city that is going to grow through this, is mentioned more times in the Scripture than almost any other city except for Jerusalem. Jerusalem being the most important city. Bethel is mentioned like second most. All that’s going to unfold at Bethel, is going to be very, very important. He calls this place Bethel, although it had previously been called Luz or Luz. It means to be turned aside or crooked actually. Then Jacob made a vow and he said, “God will be with me and will keep me on this journey. And will give me food to eat and garments to wear and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the Lord Jehovah will be my God. This stone which I’ve set up as a pillar will be God’s house and all that you give to me, I will surely give a tenth to you oh God. As a recognition that you are that God who blesses my life.”
I. Running from Troubles Doesn’t Work
This is very, very important chapter, very important verses, and there’s so much to apply to our lives because of what’s happening in Jacob. There’s so many things that we can see that apply to our lives starting with this, that running from troubles doesn’t work. That’s what Jacob is doing, he’s running from his troubles. He’s on the run. In reality he’s not just on the run from Esau, I suggest to you that he’s been on the run from God for a long time.
Abraham had a wonderful relationship to the Lord so that he was called the friend of God. Isaac had a relationship to the Lord, he was instructed by God, but as we read in the Scriptures so far Jacob has never known God for himself. The results of that are seen in his life. There’s an old saying, maybe you’ve heard it, “God has no grandchildren.” What does that mean? What it means is that every person must have their own relationship to God. You cannot ride on the relationship that your spouse has with God. You cannot ride on the relationship your parents have with God. You must have, each one must have their own personal relationship with God.
A. We must come to the end of ourselves
So far Jacob has not encountered God, but God is bringing him to the end of himself. This is such an important thing, we must come to the end of ourselves. Jacob’s cunning, is clever little manipulating, his heels-snatching has finally caught up to him. The consequences of what were in his heart are chasing him you might say. He’s on the run. Can you just imagine now every relationship in his life is broken?
He’s left his mother whom he loves dearly, because of the troubles that he started. He leaves his mother. He has deceived and lied to and deceived his father and his brother wants to kill him. In other words, there’s conflict and heartbreak all around him. Can you imagine coming to a point in your life, he’s well into his adulthood. He’s many years into his living as an adult and everything is broken.
Now, there are people who look around and they realize all my relationships are broken. This is such an important thing to understand, that God is bringing him to the end of himself. Jacob could not have felt good about himself when he was deceiving his father. When he was wearing the goat skin, the hairy, he did that because his brother was hairy, he’s trying to deceive. He couldn’t have felt good about having this blessing given to him through deception.
You can be sure the Holy Spirit was convicting his heart. You know why? Because that’s what the Holy Spirit does. If you’ve ever experienced the convicting of the Holy Spirit you know that God is on the move and it’s a good thing. Because he’s bringing you to the end of yourself. John 16, “If I go when I go,” Jesus said, “I will send the Holy Spirit to you and He, when He comes will convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment.” That’s what he does. That’s a good thing when it brings you to the end of yourself.
B. You can’t outrun God
Many people I think are tempted by the idea, the thought of leaving their troubles behind. Starting over. I’ll just leave it all behind. I’ll just start over fresh, and they say to themselves, everything’s so broken, everything’s still messed up. It would just be better to throw in the towel and start over. The problem that I have found with this approach, the problem that I have found with that is this, wherever you go, there you are. In other words, you take yourself with you wherever you go.
Then when you leave, you’re actually taking the real problem with you because it starts in the heart. Verse 11 says, that he came to a ‘certain place’. It wasn’t just another place, it was a certain place. It was that place where Jacob was going to come to the end of himself. It was the perfect place. Just because times are bad doesn’t mean that God isn’t doing anything.
If God is bringing you to the end of yourself, God is doing something very important. Here’s why, because you can’t outrun God. God is already there waiting for you, you can’t outrun God. You can be sure that God has been working on Jacob’s heart. You can be sure that the Holy Spirit was convicting his heart and trying to get his attention. The problem is Jacob wasn’t listening. Jacob you might say was hitting ignore on his cell phone. Back in the old days, when they made cell phones.
Cell phones were a great invention, but when they were first made, when they first came out not only were they biggest bricks, but they had a button that said ignore. You can just ignore. That button always bothered me when my kids got cell phones. I used to have this speech with my kids, like the most important call you ever going to get is that call that comes from mom or me. You never hit ignore when mom or I call. Any parent here want to say amen to that?
That’s the most important call of your life, you answer when I call. That’s a great demonstration. Because if God is trying to get your attention it would be really good not to ignore it. Because God is trying to get your attention, because He’s doing a work. He’s bringing you to the end of yourself. He wants you to stop running. Stop running, because when you stop running you’ll have an encounter with God. When you have an encounter with God there’s going to come a revival.
One of the best illustrations has to be Jonah. You know the story of Jonah. God had called this prophet to go to the people of Assyria and Nineveh the city and bring a message of repentance and a warning from God to repent, and they would have new hope and new life if they did. But Jonah despised the people of Assyria. Frankly he wanted the wrath of God poured out on them. He didn’t want to bring that word and he didn’t want to do what God asked him to do.
So, he went down to Joppa which is a port city there in Israel and he booked passage on a ship going the opposite direction. Towards Tarshish which is like Southern Europe. Guess what happened? They encountered a terrible storm. In other words, time to meet God, and in that encounter with God he began to see, he began to come to the end of himself.
Jonah 2:3-4 we see this that Jonah says, “All your breakers–” This is Jonah, “All your breakers and bellows has passed over me. So, I said I had been expelled from your sight, but nevertheless I will look again toward your holy temple.” In other words, I will turn my heart back to you oh, God. That encounter with God is running back to revival. Soon he’s giving thanks to God.
Another example has got to be Saul in the New Testament. We later know him as Paul. Paul or brother Saul as we know him, he’s persecuting the Christians, and he’s taking them out of their homes and dragging them and see that they be stoned. At one point he has like orders from the high priest to go up to a city in Damascus and take the Christians from there and bring them back for persecution. As he’s journeying up there towards Damascus, he has an encounter with God. Literally God knocks him off his high horse and blinds him. “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me?” He says to him. It’s hard for you to kick against the goads.
Now, that is a great expression. In other words, you’re kicking against the goads, you are resisting the Holy Spirit. I have been trying to get your attention all of this time, but you’re kicking against the goads. You know what a goad is, back in the days when farmers would move their cattle they would take a stick and they would stick their ribs to get the ox to move in the different direction. Ox didn’t like that they would kick against the goads.
II. We Need an Encounter with God
That’s a picture of people who are resisting God trying to get their attention and change the direction of their lives. “Saul, Saul, it’s hard for you to kick against the goads.” God is getting his attention and what comes out of that? Revival. He has an encounter with God and the end result is revival. I love Acts 9:11, “The Lord said to Ananias, get up, go to the street called Straight and call out the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul.” For he’s praying, he is praying. He’s having an encounter with God, and he is having revival. Here’s the point to it, we all need an encounter with God. We need an encounter with God. Jacob comes to a certain place he lays down asleep, God was already there. God was there ready to reveal himself to Jacob. That’s what we need, we need to come to the end of ourselves. In business, there’s a saying that people sometimes use, they’ll say, “Well, we need to have a come to Jesus meeting.” You know what? People need to have a real come to Jesus meeting, because when you have a real come to Jesus meeting, you have an encounter with God.
A. His kindness leads us to repentance
Here’s what we got to see, we need to see this perspective. You have a come to Jesus meeting, then please know this, that it is His kindness that leads us to repentance. God showed Jacob this ladder between earth and heaven and the angels descending or ascending and descending on it. Then he gives to Jacob, those blessings that he gave to Abraham, and that he gave to Isaac. Through your descendants, all the families of the earth will be blessed. I will be with you and I will watch over you wherever you go. Notice this, notice that this encounter with God is where God pours out all this blessing. All of this hope, it’s kindness. He doesn’t lecture him, He doesn’t condemn him, He doesn’t rebuke him. He brings them to God.
See, I love Romans 2:4. Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience? Not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance. I just love that perspective, doesn’t correct him, He doesn’t rebuke him, He doesn’t condemn him. He brings him to Himself. God knows that we need to change our hearts, it starts with that, but the change of the heart is the change of the desire of the heart. You got to be willing to come, you must be willing to change, and you have to be willing to let go of all the hurt, let go of all the hurt.
That’s a hard thing for many people to do, to let go of all the hurt. I think the problem for some is that they would rather feel badly about themselves. You know why? I’ve come to see that it’s a form of self-inflicted punishment and that somehow, they believe that they were going to extract justice in their own life by self-inflicted punishment of self-pity. It prevents the coming to the Lord, it prevents the transformation of the heart. In the old days, I was thinking of an illustration to illustrate that, and I was thinking of the old days. In the old days, when people would take a bath, they would sit in the tub and they would pour water over themselves.
Then here’s the problem with that, you sitting in your own dirty water. Now, you might wonder how I know this, yes, because this is how we took bath. We were very poor when we grew up and this is how we took baths. We were so poor, that when you finished your bath, the next person would get in the tub. I was number five, I know. You pour water over yourself it’s like wallowing in self-pity. There is something comforting in self-pity, isn’t there? There is something comforting in self-pity.
I remember many years ago, breaking up with a girlfriend. Okay, actually, she broke up with me, I’m better now. I remember this wallowing in the feelings, I would take a long drive, I know. Put in my eight-track of Englebert Humperdinck, singing, feeling, nothing more than feelings. Anybody know this song? Oh, it’s a classic for the emotional moments of your life. Trying to forget these feelings of love, you got to love the chorus, you got to love the chorus. Feelings, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, feelings. That is deep, as deep right there.
B. God has a wonderful plan for your heart
Okay, back to our regularly scheduled message, the point is that you got to let go of the hurts. You got to let go of the wounds, because in that come to Jesus meeting what you going to see, here’s what you’re going to see. That God has a wonderful plan for your heart. Here’s why I say it that way, here’s why I say it that way. There was many years ago, a pamphlet that came out as a famous gospel tract. They were was called the four spiritual laws and was commonly given when people are sharing the gospel. The first law, so called spiritual law was this, God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.
Now, the problem is, I saw that. The problem is I saw is that people wanted God’s plan for their life more than they wanted God’s heart for their life. See, if you want revival transformation of God is centered on what God is doing in the heart through a personal relationship to himself through Jesus Christ His Son. That is where transformation comes, you want to come to Jesus meeting, it’s a come to Jesus meeting. It’s a come to relationship meeting. If I was going to give that spiritual love, first to rewrite that pamphlet, I would say God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your heart. Transformation is the beginning of changing your heart.
Then, once your heart is changed, then you’re going to see your mind is changed. Your perspective is going to change, the truth of who God is in your life will change. Romans 12:2, don’t be conformed to this world. Do not let the world shape you and mold you into its way, but rather be transformed by the renewing of your mind. God is doing the work, God is changing you, God is transforming you. He starts with your heart, then he gives you new mind, he begins to transform the way you think. Philippines one six, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it and to the day of Jesus Christ.
God’s not finished, God is doing your work. That come to Jesus meeting is the beginning of transformation. Jacob awoke and he said, “Surely, the Lord is in this place and I did not know it.” You think you’re in a hard place, that place there is just filled with rocks. If you ever go to Israel you’ll know, it’s a rock filled place. In many ways people can relate to it, it’s like an analogy, their lives are filled with rocks. The metaphor might even be, and you know because you got a rock for a pillow. You’re not alone, God is in that place. You think you’re alone but you’re not alone. God is in that place.
You didn’t know it, but if you would know it. If you would take hold of that, I tell you it will transform your faith. It is the very substance, it is the very rock on which faith is built, to believe that God is in fact with you wherever you go. Why? He loves you. His love for you knows no bounds. If you could just be convinced. I love Psalm 23, is so beautiful, so poetic, but it’s filled with power. One of those verses, verse four, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Why? You are with me and your rod and your stuff, they comfort me.
That is a key. If we can only grasp that truth. Psalm 139 very famous. David writes these verses, “You have enclosed me behind, and before. You’ve laid your hand on me, where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you’re there, if I make my bed in Sheol, behold you are there. Even there, your hand will lead me and your right hand will lay hold of me. David knew that. David understood a key component of faith. To believe that God is with him.
What’s interesting is that Jesus connects himself to that very thing that is unfolding to us here in Genesis 28. That’s stairway, that ladder that goes between Earth and Heaven is Jesus. He is, in fact, that stairway. Here’s what I mean, back in John one, Jesus is now inviting his disciples to come, Andrew and Peter have come. Then, Philip, he comes to the Lord and then he goes and gets Nathaniel, and he says, “You must come. We’ve met him, who is the one promise of God. The Messiah from Nazareth.” Just from Nazareth? The famous lion. Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Philip says, “Come and see.” As they’re coming to Jesus, Jesus sees Nathaniel and he says, “Ah, an Israelite in whom there is no guile. This is John 1:48. Nathaniel said to him, “How do you know me? How is it that you know me?” Jesus answered and said, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
Nathaniel answered and said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God. You are the king of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree you believe, you will see greater things than these.” Then he adds this. Listen to this. “Truly, truly I say to you will see heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” Now, every Jew knew exactly what he meant by that.
C. Respond with sincere worship
You’re talking about Jacob’s vision, Jacob’s dream, Jacob’s ladder. You are in fact that stairway that access into heaven? Yes. You’ll see the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man. What an interesting and amazing connection. As of this place is such an amazing declaration because of what it says of Jesus Christ. Jacob, he responds. I love the response because it’s sincere worship. That’s right. To respond with sincere worship is right.
He rises early. He is filled with power of God. He sets up an altar. He calls the place Bethel, house of God. Worship is absolutely the right response to what God has done, because worship, the way God meant worship, is a response of the heart. Why should we give God our heart? Why should we give God our heart? Answer, because God gave you His. God gave you His heart. God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son. He sent His Son. The Word of God, the heart of God, I love you.
He pursues you, come away my beloved. He says He gives you His heart. What should we give in return? Our heart. Worship is like experiencing Heaven. Here’s what I mean by that. I’m convinced that God gave us worship that we might have a taste. You read Revelation and you see all of these amazing descriptions of eternity in heaven and the presence of God. Over and over, you read about a new song and the worship of the angels and the power. The music was so powerful that it shook.
This picture of the power of the worship and the music of heaven. I am convinced that God gave us worship, song, music, that we can have a taste of it. I tell you when the Holy Spirit inhabits the praises of his people and the heart of the people are responding with their heart back to God, it is a holy moment. It is a glorious holy day when you bring your heart and sincere worship in response to all that God is done. You see Jacobs’ response. First, he sets up an altar. Here’s my heart.
Then he looked to God to be with Him every step of the way. Here’s my life. Then he committed this tithe of all that he had. God, you are the Blesser of life. I want to respond to that. I want to give back to you a portion of all that you’ve given to me. Whenever we receive our tithes and offerings here, we like to make it very clear that it’s an aspect of worship, because what you’re saying when you give your tithes or offerings, what you’re saying is, God I recognize that you are the Blesser of my life. You are the Blesser of my life.
I want to give you a portion of all you’ve given to me. I love you, God. It’s part of worship when you– He wants your heart. He wants your thanks. He wants your recognition that God is, in fact, the Blesser. Then lastly, would you look at chapter 29? Just the first verse, because I want to show you something very interesting. It says in chapter 29 verse one, in English, it seems too straightforward. Jacob went on his journey, came to the land of the sons of the East.
In the Hebrew, it’s a little more descript. It says, “Jacob lifted up his heels.” I just love that picture. Have you ever had an encounter with God? Have you ever had such an experience where God is the one who has just touched your life and he’s healed the hearts and the wounds. He’s established his name in your life and the end result is you. Just having a rejoicing in the heart. Jesus said, “I want to give you a joy and it’s not like the world gives. I’m going to give you a joy that’s right out of heaven.”
It’s like I love that picture. He lifted up is heels. It’s like his step is light. He’s going now. He’s walking forth with that promise of God. Let’s have that same response of believing that God is able. You may be in a very difficult place. Maybe there’s rocks all around you. Maybe you have broken relationships, and there’s hurt all around you, here’s what I’m convinced of. I’m convinced that you have a come to Jesus encounter and He’ll heal you. He’ll heal your heart.
Then you watch, when your heart is healed, God will use you to heal the people around you. Your relationships will be healed. You’ll establish His name in your life. You’ll be convinced that God is with you and walking, ordering your way. There’s going to be a joy. There’s a joy.
Genesis 28:1-22 NASB
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