As we stand at the threshold of a New Year, I have had a flood of memories of other New Year celebrations. As I ponder the condition of our world as we step off into 2016, I pause to reflect on messages the Lord gave over the years and I am humbled to realize how timely His Word is in every age and every circumstance.
The following is a message I preached in Cottage Grove ten years ago. As I mentioned in my note to you about the future of The Jude 3 Fellowship, and this site. I plan to begin an archive of sermons as well as linking to the messages of other members of the fellowship.
As you listen, why not pray that The Holy Spirit will make specific applications in your life.
The newness promised to us in the Bible is not mere novelty, or refurbishment. No it s entirely new… ‘fresh oil’ as the Psalmist put it. Be assured, you and I will face new trials and new difficulties in the year to come. A surely as I now that is true I also know the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases… His mercies are new every morning” (and I might I add….every New Year as well)
Enjoy the sermon and let’s start this next year with resolutions like the ones you will hear about in this message.
I’m going to ask us to grab our Bibles, and we’re going to turn to the Book of Genesis.
Genesis chapter 27.
Yeah, how many of you were here at one of the candlelight services last night? Wasn’t that just a great I? So look forward to that every year. The first one I’ve got to tell you was really eventful.
There was just a lot of stuff going on and the whole day was just kind of an interesting day, and so I I’d like to think I was prepared for what I was going to say and I reached in my pocket and pulled out my glasses and I put them on and I thought it didn’t feel quite right when I started to lift them up they were bent down this way and the earpiece.
It was over here, so it’s kind of.
And I quickly put him back down and started to talk. And then I looked and said, how am I going to handle that?
Because there’s going to be, you know, a big section. There was a story that I was going to read.
I did not commit that to memory and I thought I’ve got to read that high. So after a while I tried to be very studious and I was holding it together with my thumbs and put them on it’s.
All the while singing helped me Lord.
The while singing helped me Lord.
I took them off and they stayed there and you’ll notice when I spoke I didn’t move my head hardly at all.
So just prior to that we had another young fellow. Is is so cute?
His artistic and he’s usually back in the Sunday school classes and stuff, but this time he wasn’t. So he came to the front row and I was talking to see him before the service we’re singing Todd is leading the worship team in song and he comes over to me and he says, how long are you going to speak tonight?
And I told him I still I. I think it’s going to be about this long. He says no. How long are you going to talk?
And he had a watch and he was going to time me, and so he.
And so a couple of things I said struck his fancy and he laughed. I mean, he really laughed and everybody was just kind of we didn’t know exactly what was going on.
So then we did the candle thing and God bless him. One of the little paper things tilted, or whatever needle is in some wax. So so right at a.
Tender point we are out.
It was and he was so cute. He just saw and I saw him today. He’s fine and we had a great talk but I mean it was. It was just that sort of thing you know and and.
So I was I was trying to think like today I’m just going to be as focused as I can be.
And because I think what I want to talk with you about today is important.
It has to do with.
What do you do?
When life as you knew it.
What do you do when life as you knew it is over? That’s an expression you use sometimes.
You know, some major event takes place the the death of a loved one or an accident. Or I was thinking of the Eckstein family in town here that had the the House fire. I mean things changed forever for them and you know, wonderful.
Reached by the way from the community, I’m so pleased to be able to tell you that our congregation you were able to give a a substantial financial gift to.
Them to help and we got that to them and so many people. They said they didn’t even know how to handle the response.
All the people that were coming and bringing them things and wanting to help. And so I was just so proud of our community.
But you hear that expression. You know the end of life is, you know it. I usually use it sarcastically with my kids when they’re overreacting, like they’re really freaking out.
About something up there, it is the end of life as we know it. Obviously the bus was late, you know.
Your program isn’t on, you know.
I told Peter the other day, you know there was figure skating on TV and Judy and Hannah got to the remote first.
I said Peter, it’s the end of life as we know it.
But seriously, there are those those times when you reach a point, you reach a transition.
Where things cannot ever be the way they were.
And what will you do and how will it be when you get to that point? That’s why I wanted to talk to you about Jacob.
First of all, how would you like it if your mom and dad at at the occasion of your birth named you grabber?
That’s what his name means. Heel grabber. He was born as a twin and he was literally holding on to his brothers heel as he was born.
And so they called him heel grabber. That’s what Jacob means that it’s also translated sub planters. Somebody who tries to.
Catch up and take over or take away somebody right because of what he ended up doing with his life.
This is a guy who was in a family of promise. Abraham, Isaac and then when Jacob was born, but he wasn’t acting as if he was a person of promise. He was acting like you and I act.
He was acting like if I don’t get my hands on this and if I don’t make it happen.
It’s not going to happen.
Do you ever get there? I’ve got to fix this. I’ve got to manage this. I’ve got to control this.
Well, what happens when you hit a situation that there’s nothing you can do to manage it or control it?
Or try to manipulate it.
So Jacob is born grabbing his brothers he’ll so the next thing we hear about him is he steals his brothers birthright and all we know about his brother Esau.
I love this. The pipeline I tried to be in the Bible you made it into the Bible and the description of you is you are a big hairy man.
I see, so that’s what he is. He’s a big hairy man and his name Esau refers to the the Ruddy complexion that he had read it.
It’s almost a play on words because he was one of the things he did to sell. His birthright was to respond to a deal that Jacob cut.
With him to give him some red stuff, some pottage that he was eating, some lentil soup or something.
And so here’s a guy big reddish looking hairy guy.
And Jacob and Jacob tricks him and deceives his father by the way into getting the patriarchal blessing, which in the Mideast was tantamount to you, are the primary air.
You are the one who will get the most benefit out of the family name and he had tricked his brother to get it in Genesis.
Esau verse, 37, of Genesis 27, Isaac answered Esau, I have made him Lord over you. I have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine.
So what can I possibly do for you? My son? Esau said to his father, do you have only one blessing, my father?
Bless me to my father and then he saw wept aloud.
His father Isaac, answered him. Your dwelling will be away from the Earth’s richness away from the dew of heaven.
Above you will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless you will throw his yoke from off your off your neck.
Esau had a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing the father had given him, and he said to himself, the days of mourning for my father are near, and then I’ll kill my brother.
Now I gotta believe he didn’t just think that you don’t think he told Jacob.
You just wait till Dad isn’t around.
Did your brothers ever do that to you?
You wait till Mom and Dad aren’t around.
My brother Joe was demon possessed. I think he used to be able to have this really happy look on his face and.
He would just smile and we’d be in the car driving somewhere. We had one of those big sedans that had a big bench seat in the back.
We’d be driving and Joe would just sit there looking like the cherub from the nativity scene.
As soon as my dad wasn’t looking, he just.
He’d stop me one.
Every time I turned around to retaliate, they caught me.
And I got busted and Joe would sit there what?
I have bitterness in my heart.
Well, you gotta believe Esau’s future has been pulled out from underneath him. He’s basically been told he gets everything. You get a hard life.
And the big hairy man just looked at his brother and say you wait till Dad isn’t here. So how does Jacob then conniver the grabber respond to that when Rebecca was told that her older son Esau had said this sent for her younger son Jacob and said your brother Esau is consoling himself with the thought of killing you.
Now that my son do what I safely at once to my brother Laban, in Haran, stay with him for a while, until your brothers fury subsides.
And when your brother is no longer angry with you, and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day? Mom had it figured out.
That this this guy had murder in his eyes. He was mad and so Jacob flees.
He’s born as a grabber.
He lives up to his name and he manipulates and steals and postures himself to get what he thinks he should have.
And so he asked to flee.
So all the ingredients are there for a very uncomfortable existence. Guilt.
And dread about the future.
You know these these holidays times are always interesting because the one thing it’s absolutely wonderful you get with family and the families all together.
Again, it’s like wow the families all together again and it’s just a couple hours until you start remembering maybe the last time the family was all together again.
Or those times?
You know when you were growing up and you had a demon possessed brother used to thump you in the backseat of the car, that sort of thing.
In in Jacob’s instance, I have a hunch that all along there was something special because the Lord was going to pick him.
But he tried to jump out ahead of it and make it happen in his own strength.
I know all about that.
Did you ever do that? You want to help the Lord out?
I remember I started to help the Lord out when I was dating when I was.
In college, when I first got saved as a university student.
So obviously the first really pretty Christian girl that I saw had to be the one.
And so you know.
Hi, I saw you from across the church and had to know you.
So let’s talk about the Bible and God and Jesus. And would you like to go out with me and?
Did a lot of that sort of thing. I ended up and you know, number of different relationships that turned out not to be what the Lord had for me, but I thought it had to be his will because I felt something.
You know, I love it when couples come and they start talking about weddings. Want to get married? Why do you want to get married? We’re in love.
Well, I’m so happy you’re in love oh, we’re so much in love OK? Let’s talk about money and in-laws and sex and setting up a household and but we’re in love.
Well, I keep telling him I said that’s I’m happy for you. I really am happy that you are Siamese twins joined at the lips for the moment.
But there is so much more to love.
There comes a time when you’ve gotta trust and I remember the night that I did that and I could tell you very clearly where I was and what I did. I was at my mother’s home back in Ohio.
I had completed seminary.
And I was back in Ohio waiting on what the next thing was, and I was with a good friend, Larry Johnson. He and I started a Bible study back in Youngstown, OH.
It went on to become a church that he has pastored all these years. He’s been the pastor of that church.
But I remember I went after a particularly really hurtful thing that had happened. I went up to my mom’s house and I was upstairs.
And they had a wooden floor. There was no carpet on it. We were getting ready to rent that out as an apartment after my dad had died.
And I was I was kneeling down on that wooden floor and I remember I thought I’d better just do this, Lord.
I have been trying to take care of everything myself.
I know I’ve been doing it. I know I’ve been trying to jump out ahead of you.
You realize, by the way, when you’re a pastor.
You’re a single pastor and you’re a 20. Something single pastor. You know how many people when you go to Minister somewhere they want you to meet their daughter or their knees. Honey bring the cookies you bake. Play the piano for him. Go ahead, honey.
And that was going on too and.
I reached a point where I I recognized what I was doing and I knelt down and I said, Lord, I’m sorry. I’m sorry ’cause I see what I’ve been doing.
And I’ve started to thank the Lord for all the women I didn’t marry.
Started to sound like a Willie Nelson song.
For all the girls I’ve loved before, I could hear Julio Iglesias coming in.
But I I really did. I started to say, Lord.
I I raced ahead on that and I.
I didn’t ask you about that and I didn’t pray.
And I was embarrassed. It was a long list.
And at the end, I knew in my heart of hearts that I meant.
It I said, Lord.
I’m not going to try and make this happen, and if I’m single for the rest of my life, I’m going to serve you and I’ll do the best I can.
And if you want me to get married, I’m going to trust that you’ll bring that person to me, and I’m not going to have to make that happen.
I didn’t forget it was maybe a year after that I was up in Alberta, Calgary, AB, Canada.
From Youngstown, OH.
Well, visiting my friend who was another colleague from seminary. He was pastoring a church up there and we did exactly what we did a few minutes ago at the service. I asked you to turn around and greet one another.
I saw Judy there and I remember the first thought that I had was Oh no, not now.
I’m telling you that’s the thought that I had ’cause I knew I was going to marry her.
Susie didn’t think so because Susie jumped in front of us. There was another girl who had some cookies, but you know, seriously, there was a girl.
I saw Judy and I thought who is that? And I just knew but this other girl jumped in front and started you.
Know but anyway.
All that to say.
I had gotten to a point where I thought either I am going to have the reins of my future, I’m going to write this script. I’m going to make the decisions.
Or I am going to do a very dangerous thing and take my hands off it and say Lord I will do what you show me.
And it’s made all the difference.
So this guy heel grabber now he’s fleeing for his life and he goes to his uncles place, Lehman. And I’m not going to get into that whole story.
But you know, this is where Jacob’s family gets built. He thinks he’s marrying somebody. But then he ends up with somebody else and then the whole story. Remember that, but he ends up. He now has two wives.
He has made servants through whom he has children. He has lots of possessions, but he’s had lots of grief and he has lots of conflict.
And then one day, let’s turn to that one. It’s genesis 28. Here’s the next little snapshot of this guy as he faces the future.
Actually I gave you the wrong verse. Chapter 31.
Jacob flees from Laban. My Bible says he fled from Esau. He goes in the Lord. Now he has his huge entourage. He has family and children and cattle and livestock and he’s very prosperous.
But because again of some deceptive things on both sides of this thing, Jacob heard verse. One Jacob heard that Laban sons were saying Jacob has taken everything our father owned and has gained all the wealth from that belong to our father, and Jacob noticed that Laban’s attitude toward him is not what it had been. You don’t want to see that.
At work, all of a sudden the supervisor is just looking at you.
And you have this feeling like do they know something? I don’t know.
And somebody you don’t know comes on starts. Just look at your workspace and seeing how big your desk is and say nothing.
You know the handwriting is on the wall. You just don’t know it yet. You know when something is going on and people are treating you different.
It’s like he’s starting to sense. Wait a minute, you know why he was able to sense it, ’cause he had done it before?
He had gotten into a position where he knew people knew what he had done, and so it’s like the spotlight’s getting closer to this guy and he can’t keep hiding and he can’t keep running anymore, but one more time he flees.
But verse three says the Lord said to Jacob, go back to the land of your fathers and your relatives, and I will be with you now that sounds so Bible that sounds so the Lord go to the land of your father’s, and I will be with you. It’s only one problem.
A big hairy problem.
He’s going to have to go back and deal with Visa.
So he starts back to his credit, he starts.
Back now chapter.
Jacob also went on his way.
And the Angels of God met him.
And when Jacob saw them, he said, this is the camp of God. And so he named the name of that place. Maha noene.
And Jacob sent his messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Sierra and the country of Eden.
And then he instructed them. This is what you’re to say to my master. Esau, your servant. Jacob says I’ve been staying with Lebanon.
I’ve remembered there remained there rather till now I have cattle and donkeys and sheep and goats, and menservants and maidservants. And now I’m sending this message to my Lord that you may find favor.
Probably that I may find favor in your eyes.
That only makes sense if you understand one other encounter.
That he had had.
Yeah, and it had to do.
With on the trip there says he reached a certain place. That’s all the Bible says he was fleeing from labor and he got to a certain place and because it was dark and he couldn’t travel anymore, he just decided to lay down and sleep.
And he put his head on a rock.
I guess they didn’t have certain perfect mattresses in those points, so he got a rock.
As he landed with his head on this rock, he had a dream.
And the dream was a vision from the Lord.
And he saw a ladder going up to heaven and angels going up and down this ladder. And God at the top of the ladder, and the Lord promises him.
He says I am the God of Abraham. I am the God of Isaac, your father.
And then he says I’m going to be with you tonight.
He said you’re going to come back to this place. I’m going to see to it that I keep you safe and you will come back to this place.
Jacob says he woke up and he says God was here and I didn’t even know it and so he took the rock that was under his head and he poured some oil over it and he made it a little altar and he said if the Lord will be with me if he will protect me and if he’ll bring me back to this place, I will build or this will be the place for the House of God.
He’s at this place the same angels meet him again and only this time the big hairy man is real close.
And he has another encounter. Isn’t it interesting that even though Jacob’s messing up big time, even though his character isn’t perfect, even though in fact he’s very cunning and he’s he’s making a lot of mistakes on purpose, ’cause he’s choosing to do it? Still, the Angel of the Lord shows up. Still, God speaks.
You know, don’t you love it that the Lord identifies himself? He says, I am the God of Abraham. I am the God of Isaac. I am the God of Jacob. I am the God of Jeremy. I am the God of Pat.
He’s even the God of Jenkins, which is hard for me to believe.
But it shouldn’t be hard for me to believe, because when he names himself I’m the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob what he’s saying is their experience is what you can count on from me.
How I took care of them and got them where they needed to be. I will take care of you and get.
You where you need to be.
You know when Abraham before he was called Abraham when he left everything he had and went to a place he didn’t even know where he was going.
The Bible says he had no idea where he was going, except that God called him and he went.
I I’ve looked as you came in and not one of you has opened.
Up a crystal ball.
That you got as a gift last night.
You know where you’re going to look and say what’s going to happen in 2005.
You didn’t even get one of those 8 ball gifts, you know or whatever you do.
Says go and buy more stuff from the same company.
No, nobody knows. You don’t know good or bad what’s going to happen, but I can tell you that if you’ve had a long history of trying to take your life into your own hands and trying to be the boss and trying to be the driver, you approach the future one way.
And it has to do with guilt. It has to do with anxiety. It has to do with fear.
Jacob had all those things, and so he comes to this place and the angels of the Lord appeared. He says, I called the name of the place Maha Naeem, which means two camps.
It had a double meaning.
Two camps in that. Yes, I’m here with my family. We’re in this situation, but also the angels of the Lord are camped here too.
There’s actually something in the Psalm says the Angel of the Lord and Campath about them that fear him.
So we recognize two things were going on. There was the spiritual aspect of his life. There was a physical aspect of what, but there’s also this meeting about the two camps.
You know what he did? He was so sure that what was going to happen to him next was he was going to be attacked.
So he took his family and his belongings and his flocks, and he split them into two camps as a tactic.
The reason we know that keep reading.
Great fear and distress.
Well, first of all, they sent the messengers say here’s all this stuff. Verse six, Genesis 32. When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said we went to your brother Esau and now he’s coming to meet you with 400 men.
The big hairy man has an army.
In great fear and distress, Jacob divided the people with him into two groups and the flocks and herds and the camels as well, he thought.
If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that’s left May escape.
Then and I made a note in my Bible, in parentheses and only then.
Oh God of my father, Abraham, the God of my father Isaac. O Lord, who said?
Me go back to your country and to your relatives and I’ll make you prosper. I’m unworthy of this kindness and faithfulness.
You’ve shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, and now I’ve become two groups.
Save me, I pray from the hand of my brother Esau for I’m afraid he’ll come and attack me. And also the mothers and their children.
But you’ve said I will surely make you prosper and make your descendants like the sand of the sea that cannot be counted.
And he spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau.
200 goats 20 male goats 200 ewes and Rams 20 Rams 30 female. All that he put them in the care of his servants. Each herd by itself.
Then he said to his servants, go ahead of me.
And keep some space between the herds.
When I read that I was trying to picture this in my mind and I think I figured out what he was doing.
First of all, when he finds out he saw us close, he says go find Esau and tell him.
Your brother, Jacob’s over there and he has lots of stuff.
Do you ever think that you know if you just get this promotion then you’re really going to be somebody?
If you think if I could just buy that car if I could just live in that house. If I only could just hang out with those people, then I’ll really, really be somebody. You know what the tragic part of that is.
At the end of the day, you’re still you.
So he sends word and he says tell he saw this. So they come back and said yeah, he got the message and he’s coming. He’s got 400 people in it.
So then he splits. He starts, he says. When you sent that herds over, do it this way. Keep a space between them and then he gave messages to each of the persons who were responsible for each segment of all of his goods and stuff going.
So it’s like this. A big group shows up in. One spokesman goes to Esau and said, who are these?
Oh, these are from your brother, Jacob. All of these things. They’re from Jacob, your brother.
Then another group comes up, oh, another group.
Who’s this? These are from your brother, Jacob. All of these people and all of this stuff.
Jacob the important one.
Another group comes up who was it? Was it? This is from your brother Jacob?
Can I tell you a secret about pastors? This is embarrassing, but I’m going to tell you a secret.
Something you do when you’re just getting started in the ministry.
If you don’t have a lot of people in the church yet.
You take all the chairs away except the ones that you think you can fill.
And then when everybody is there, it looks full.
Seriously, we’ve done that in smaller churches that we’ve pastored.
You know, if there was 200 seats in the sanctuary and there were 55 people coming, we’d make maybe 65 chairs.
And every week it would be like, wow, we’re really growing and we were but still it was that kind of psychologically manipulative thing to yourself to give you the impression that is, there’s more here than meets the eye.
What Jacob was doing, even at this point, the big hairy man and the 400 people are coming in here.
Says the only way I can face the future to at least put my best face forward put my best. You know how you know that you’re really starting to?
To get in trouble is when you start to believe your own resume.
Your fill out a resume, don’t you really look good in a resume? I was an orderly for about 10 years in a hospital.
And I think I’ve said this in here before. You know, in the created order, there’s Almighty God. And then there are the archangels, and there are the angels. And then there is mankind. And then there’s the crustaceans.
And then there are orderlies.
But on my resume, I wasn’t an orderly. I was a paraprofessional in the Allied Health Sciences.
And that sound good.
Paraprofessional in the Allied health. That meant I was an orderly
So Jacob sends all this stuff aside, he’s trying to grease the skids he’s trying to work it one more time. One more tactic.
But he comes to the place that we all come to.
I think some of you are probably there right now.
You come to the point where none of your tricks are going to work anymore.
All of your options are gone.
And you’re all by yourself.
That night. Verse 22.
At night, Jacob got up.
He took his two wives, his two maid servants, as eleven sons.
They crossed the Ford of the Jabbok and after he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all of his possessions.
And so Jacob was left alone.
Jacob was left alone.
And a man wrestled with him until Daybreak.
When the man saw he couldn’t overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacobs hips so that the hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man, and the man said, let me go for it’s Daybreak.
Jacob replied, I will not let you go.
So unless you bless me, the man asked him what’s your name?
Grabber he answered heel grabber connivers driver.
Then the man said, your name will no longer be called that, but is real.
Because you have struggled with God.
And with men.
And have overcome and Jacob said, please tell me your name and he replied, why do you ask my name and then he?
Blessed him there.
So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, for he said.
I have seen God face to face.
And yet my life has been preserved. The sun rose above him as he passed pennyland he was limping because of his hip.
I’ve seen it. I’ve kind of experienced it. I think you have to.
You do the best you can. You give it your best shot.
I think we in the Western world have a bias for action. You know we’ll do something we’ll call. Somebody will buy something.
We’ll get some advice. We’ll read a book. We’ll go to the self help section at the bookstore will attend a seminar, will do something.
But there comes a time when all the props are just kicked out from underneath you and you are there.
With the God who made you.
And you realize that there’s not a thing you can do but hold onto him.
This wrestling match was all about was Jacob holding on to the Lord.
When the Lord saw that he wasn’t about to let go, that’s when the name change.
Took place I’ve seen it in intensive care unit waiting rooms.
Many of you know Jim and Bonnie Edwards.
And Sarah and her brother Joel used to attend this church.
The day that the accident happened in the call that we got, there were two people in a car crash. One boy died and the other girl was hanging on by a thread and it was Sarah.
Remember driving up to Sacred Heart Hospital?
We didn’t know, we just didn’t know how this was going to go one way or the other.
And I prayed with them and and I remember the look on Jim face. I will never ever ever forget to look on Jim face.
Bonnie was absolutely, you know they were crying and but Jim had this look.
Where there was nobody around, the place was full. It was an intensive care unit waiting room. It was full of well meaning people there were nurses coming. There were doctors coming to talk to him, but there wasn’t anybody in that room.
He was alone.
Wrestling with God.
And I walked up to it, and it was such a holy thing. I almost didn’t want to say anything to him, but I wanted him to know I was there.
I remember I grabbed his shirt and I said dumb.
We’re going to pray and I’m going to agree with you in prayer.
And then I’m going to go over there and sit down. I’m not going to say another word. You don’t need me to say anything to you, but I’m going to be right over here and I’m going to come back and we’re going to pray again and we’re going to do that.
At one point when we were talking with him.
A nurse came over to talk to him and I only knew it because I’d worked in hospitals. I looked down and she had a clipboard with an organ donation consent form in her hand.
A tough close she came.
When I saw Sarah, she had a.
A drain coming out of her skull to try and resist the urge or relieve the swelling on her brain.
She had numerous fractures and bruises and this beautiful little girl was just a beaten pulp with a drain coming out of her skull.
And I remember I don’t know how many weeks it was a matter of weeks. She was in a coma and she hung between this world and the next.
And every day I saw Jim, I just saw this look like.
Nobody can help me, but the Lord.
And I remember the day she moved her to.
Then I remember the day she started kicking the blankets around, starting to rouse out of the coma. That wasn’t even out of the woods yet. There was a long time before she recognized anybody.
Last time I saw her, she was at the gym working out.
She has kind of a Husky voice now, but I remember the day she called the office. Sarah did and said Pastor Jim, I want to be baptized.
But I remember that long night of the soul that Jim was standing there and I tried to relate as a dad. I couldn’t. No, you really can’t.
But I remember what was going on with him. Was all this stuff. Jim is kind of a confident person.
And now I think he’s a person that’s used to relying on himself in his own two hands. But all those things were taken from him and there wasn’t anything for him to do but to just stand before the Lord and say I’m going to hold onto you. And I’m going to hold onto you for her, and that’s what he did.
Jacob was left alone. This wrestling thing happens and the Lord says your name is no longer grabber. Your name is now.
You have striven with God and with men and have prevailed. That’s what Israel means, and Jacob’s name became the name of the nation.
And Jacob’s experience was one where that place we’re going to find out that he’s going to get back to that place.
So he goes to Esau and he says, please.
He saw runs to him, ran to Jacob, embraced him through his neck apartment before I say that, let me tell.
You this part?
Jacob looked up. He saw Esau coming with 400 men, so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the other two maidservants. He put the maidservants.
And their children in the front, Leah and her children next Rachel and Joseph in the rear you know which changed with this guy.
Right now he’s not worried about himself. He’s worried about his family and he put them in position in really in terms of his endearment to each one of them.
With the what the wife that he loved and his son that was so precious to him at the very last, that his thought was maybe they’ll survive.
But look what happens.
He himself went on ahead.
Bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.
Heel grabber the night before is saying we gotta do something, we’ll split up you go here you go here maybe there’ll be some sort of diversionary thing. Maybe there is 400 then what? He’s thinking all this stuff.
All that’s gone now. He can’t even walk without assistance, he’s limping.
And he limps over, and he sees the big hairy man coming with four hundred soldiers.
And he goes out in front of his family to face the future.
I’m just trying to picture this proud sneaky guy just walking with his hip. I had a thing that he gets out in front of everybody and it’s like.
I’m taking steps into the future now.
As a blessed man.
I’m not making it happen. I’m not going to try to make it happen.
The Lord showed me that he’s blessed me and whatever happens. Here’s a word for many of you for 2005.
Whatever happens, whatever you face, you can go into this year as a blessed person by a God who has covenanted with you to bless you.
He gets out in front.
I am convinced, says Esau ran to him. I don’t what. What would Jacob says he bowed to the ground seven times.
Every time I see a detail like that in my Bible, I think it must be significant. Y seven times.
In the ancient world, when you were vanquished and you bowed to the person that vanquished you.
You bowed 7 times as a token of complete submission.
The once proud clever heel grabber is now on his belly 7 times before his brother. And by the way, that’s a very vulnerable position. If somebody is going to kill you.
There’s no weapons in his hands. He bows before his brother 7 times and says Esau ran to him.
He embraced him. He threw his arms around his neck and he kissed him and they wept.
Lisa looked up and saw the women and children said who are these with you?
Jacob said they’re the children God graciously given your servant. Then the maid, servants and their children approached and bowed down.
Next, Leah and her children came and bowed down. Last of all came Joseph and Rachel, and they two bowed down. And then he saw, said, what did you mean by all these droves I met?
But all that posturi so well.
What was that all about?
Well now Jacob answers honestly, he says.
To find favor in your eyes.
This is his way of trying to say he was sorry.
Esau said, I already have plenty my brother keep what you have yourself. No please said Jacob if I found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me for to see your face is like seeing the face of God. Now that you’ve received me favorably, please accept the present that was brought to you for the Lord.
Been gracious to me and I have all I need and because Jacob insisted Esau accepted it.
I love I love I love I love I love to preach and teach for no other reason that I’m forced to get into the word.
And try and look at it from a number of different aspects. I’ve told this story for years, all the years I’ve been pastoring I saw something. This time I never saw before. It it just it, it just opens it up for me.
When Jacob says, please take the present that I’m giving you.
And Esau said, no, I have plenty said no, please take this.
The Hebrew word for present is the exact same Hebrew word as the blessing that he stole in the first place.
Jacob is saying.
I want to do this right now.
I want to bless you.
You know what happens when you have a dark night of the soul and you’re all alone and you face things you never thought you would face and the Lord lets you not only survive it, but he blesses you.
You may be limping into the next thing, but the next thing that you say is.
Now I want to bless you.
Jim and Bonnie.
When Sarah’s accident happened within two or three days, Jim was having Bible studies with other parents.
In the intensive care unit and leading people to Jesus.
This whole thing about the future New Years we always do it, don’t we? It’s a time of resolution, by the way, before we get to that.
He goes on from there.
And he stops one more place. He said no, I won’t stay with you. He saw thank you for your gracious offer. He moves on.
And he stops at a place.
And at that time he calls on the Lord again and guess where he stopped?
He stopped right where he was 20 years before, when he laid down on that rock and the Lord gave him the dream.
And he says, you’ve done what you’re going to do, and this is going to be the House of God, Shechem.
Guess what happened when Moses led the Israelites across to the Canaan land? You know where they set up the Tabernacle?
Place of God.
It’s a guy and I I thought about this. Maybe I’m stretching it. It’s OK, I do it all the time.
But maybe the place of blessing is when you get your head back where it was the last time God spoke to you.
20 What he did wasn’t got his head back where it was.
I think sometimes you need to be reminded with the Lord promise so.
New Year’s Eve resolutions.
Since I’m such a technical guy.
I’m really sharp on power tools and machinery and VCR’s nice eyes. I know all that stuff I can. You don’t have to laugh right away. You could have been merciful and waited a second.
But yeah, I asked these technical questions just to amuse the people at the hardware store sometime or the place that’s selling me stuff. And so I went to his New Year’s, not the time when you make resolutions.
This might be hard for you to believe, but one of my resolutions is to hit the gym. Can you imagine?
These resolutions that that you you have I I always thought about that a certain way. You know that it’s some promise you’re going to make and everybody makes New Year’s resolution.
It’s it’s become the fodder of Nate late night comics to make jokes about all the resolutions we don’t keep.
But there’s another way to look at that word resolution.
I bought a digital camera recently for the church. Wanted to have one for the church so that when we one of the things we’re doing is looking at other church buildings and sanctuary ideas and taking pictures and bringing them back to the church council so that they can look. And so I went. And since I’m such a technical guru, expert.
Kind of guy. I started asking all these questions so the person is selling me to the camera. One of the technical questions was what’s that thingy?
They said now there’s two kinds of zooms. You got your optical zoom and you got there was a digital zoom. I said all zooms are. I understand about zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom.
And I said, and you got you. It’s all a matter of resolution here. Now to about how many pixels?
I said pixels, that’s that film that does. Those Disney movies isn’t that pixel?
I do know this. Anybody who’s ever bought a cheap printer knows about pixels.
Because if you’re going to print a file off the Internet that has a picture in it, it gives you.
Your printer will give you an option to say do you want to do poor quality, something quality or really good quality?
And it has to do with how many dots.
Are in the picture.
And if you’ve ever seen how newspapers are printed in everything, if they’re really just a series of dots, that’s what those pictures are is just a series of dots. The really good pictures that have a lot of detail have more dots.
And so I was thinking, dots resolution.
And I’m dense, but I did get something. I thought the Lord was trying to show me. You know what went on in Jacobs life and what goes on in our life.
You have these these things that go on. You know you get up, you’re born into the family of origin.
You’re born into. Nobody can control that you’re born where you’re born to whom you’re born to that was heavy women.
So you are.
There’s a, there’s a dot.
You go to school and you have the experiences in the schools that you have good and bad. You become a teenager and there’s lots of dots when you’re teenagers.
Then you start in your career and then you meet somebody and then you get married and that either works out really good.
Or maybe it doesn’t work out so good and then you have kids and that’s wonderful and horrible and everything in between as you walk through all the tough things that you do.
Trying to parent and then you get on a job and you like the job, but then you get fired.
Get moved over here. And then there’s another dot. And then there’s another dot and there’s another dot and it’s all these dealings with the Lord.
But after a while.
Resolution if we were going to look at it from an optics standpoint, is.
Resolution is when you start to put all the dots together and you get the picture.
From the Lord standpoint, your life is not a disjointed chapter here in a line.
Here and and this he doesn’t know about her. He missed this one or he didn’t know that that person hurt you and he didn’t know what it felt like when you got fired, but he doesn’t understand about what a tumor can do and scare you, or he doesn’t know what it’s like when the car crash happens and somebody that you loves dies.
He doesn’t know what it’s like when you just get afraid about the future. Doesn’t know what it’s like when somebody you love.
Was in a uniform on the other side of the world. The Lord knows all of it, and all of those dots he was doing stuff and Jacob finally started putting it together.
And he says, the Lord was in this place. I didn’t even know it. This is the House of God. And if I can just get back to this place, Lord, I’m going to build your house here. I’ll see to it that it’s here that it happens.
And he got the picture.
He got the picture.
Here’s another definition of the word resolution. It is the art of resolving. I got a number of definitions from a dictionary for the word resolution.
It’s the act of resolving or reducing something to a simpler form.
You know, if you think about it, isn’t that the really when things start happening when you can reduce it to its simplest form.
Here’s something real simple.
Few walk with the Lord.
Find out what he says in his word.
And do what he tells you to do. Life is going to go a certain way.
If you don’t.
Life is going to go a certain way.
You know, I love how the Marines they have a great phrase. The Marines have the expression motivates somebody.
Hello, he said there’s somebody else say to the staff Sergeant or the Gunny would you go motivate him?
And that means that you know you didn’t learn it one way. We’re going to see to it that you learned it another way. It’s not. We’re not going to kill you. You’ll think we’re going to kill you.
But the point is, you’re going to get this.
And and and so.
The the the.
I’ve read reducing something to something simple, but this one I really like.
One of the definitions for the word resolution is a proposition offered to or adopted by.
Haven’t you been in meetings when they do? Roberts rules of orders and then somebody says Mr. Chairman, I want to propose a resolution.
And everybody gets the thing and they say yes, we agree with that. And they say the resolution is adopted.
I’d like to present a resolution to this Assembly.
For our future and for your futures, individually be it resolved and I’ve seen resolutions from the city of Cottage Grove. I was with Gary Williams when we handed one of these to a veterans group or something.
Be it resolved.
That this congregation and everybody in it.
We’ll get over themselves.
We’ll humble themselves.
We’ll submit themselves to the Lord.
And he will get them to the place where they will build the House of God.
If you agree with that resolution, why don’t you say Amen?
I love this.
One of my favorite news guys. He’s he died in 1991.
Harry Reasoner, some of you might remember Harry Reasoner with CBS. He always kind of did. Essays beyond just reports he was really good with language. Maybe that’s why I liked him so much.
But they somebody must have brought up to him one time around Christmas time, he said, Oh yeah, you know Christmas and Christians and everything.
They get all excited about the holidays, but nothing really changes during the year, you know, and they make all these resolutions at New Year’s and everything but the Christians. They just around Christmas time.
And he wrote in his commentary. And the week between this week, the week between Christmas and New Years, he wrote in a commentary.
If a Christian is touched only once a year.
The touching is still worth it.
And maybe on some given Christmas, some quiet morning.
The touch will take.
The touch will take.
I love this little anecdote. I came across, it said.
Is a cancelled check.
Tomorrow is a promissory note.
Today is the only cash you have.
Use it wisely.
Today, when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.
Jesus said my time is not yet before he had gone to the cross. Be told his disciples said your time is always opportune. I’m going to close with this poem by Barbara Ryberg. I I never never heard this before.
It’s entitled step by step.
He does not lead me year by year, nor even day by day.
But step by step the path unfolds and my Lord directs the way.
Tomorrow’s plans I do not know. I only know this minute.
But he will say this is the way by faith. Now walk in it.
And I am glad that it is so today is enough to bear when tomorrow comes, his grace shall far exceed its care.
What need to worry then? Or fret the God who gave his son?
Holds all my moments in his hand.
And he gives them one by one.
Lord, for the ones that are alone right now alone with you.
They are facing things that.
They have no idea. They have no idea what lies ahead.
I pray Lord, that in their wrestling they will have the change happen that happened with Jacob.
If needs be, they limp from the encounter with you then so be it. But Lord they would limp out ahead of their families. Then in step boldly into the next thing.
As people who are blessed by you.
I pray Lord, that you would cause this congregation to be a group of people.
Who makes the energy of our existence expended in holding onto you and not letting go?
Until you bless us.
And then when you bless us, Lord, we will say with Jacob, surely the Lord was in this place and I didn’t know it.
This is nothing other than the House of God.
And I pray, Lord, for all the things that are attendant to physically building a place here.
That you’ll give us wisdom and guidance and provision.
But that we would not miss the lesson that it’s us that are the House of God. No, you not that you are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Build your house in us. Build your home in us.
And Lord, it’s been resolved here. The Assembly has a resolution.
That we will follow you.