Summary: A teaching message on Genesis 31:1-55.

Genesis Series #56 August 11, 2002

Title: 5 Ways That God is Active in His People’s Lives Part 3



Welcome to New Life in Christ. Today we continue with message #56 in our verse-by-verse study of the Book of Genesis.

Read Genesis 31:1-16

Opening Prayer

Over the past few weeks we’ve looked at Genesis 29 and 30, which are a history of Jacob after he had fled from Esau. These chapters along with Chapter 31 cover a period of 20 years in Jacob’s life. There are many life lessons and spiritual applications for our lives in these chapters. One of the dominant themes is God’s activity in his people’s lives. Through the story of Jacob we discover some of the ways that God actively works in all of his people’s lives. The message for us is that although God is unseen, he is not uninvolved. This can be an encouragement in our lives because we know that even when we are unaware of God’s presence, he is working to accomplish his purposes. In this narrative we have so far discovered three ways God actively works in his people’s lives.

1. God actively works in his people’s lives by guiding them.

2. God actively works in his people’s lives by disciplining them.

3. God actively works in his people’s lives by prospering them.

This third way of God actively working in his people’s lives was found in Chapter 30 where we saw that God prospered Jacob by providing him with offspring and livestock. He did this despite Laban’s deception and unfair treatment.

Unfortunately Jacob had a habit of turning to deception and his own resources for a remedy to unfair treatment instead of trusting God to provide. In this case he intends to use superstitious herder’s tricks using striped branches to insure that the flocks produce striped offspring. The idea was that the females would have offspring that were like whatever they were looking at whenever they conceived. The scheme seems to work as the flocks do produce an abundance of streaked and spotted offspring which made Jacob a wealthy man. In Genesis 31:10-12 Jacob is told that in a dream that his prosperity had nothing to do with his ingenuity or schemes but had everything to do with God actively working in his life.

This brings us to Genesis 31:1-16 where we see God actively working in a fourth way.

4. God actively works in his people’s lives by prompting them in the right direction.

One way God prompts us in the right direction, i.e. towards his will, is through circumstances. We see this in verses 1 and 2.

Read Genesis 31:1, 2

Jacob was quite comfortable and prosperous where he was, so there was no reason to leave and return to the Promised Land. He needed a Divine nudge to get him moving in the right direction in the same way that my daughters need some serious prompting to get them out of their comfortable beds and off to school early in the morning. God did this prompting through the use of adverse circumstances. First Laban’s adult sons were jealous and angry over Jacob’s prosperity. Many times the ungodly will be envious of God’s blessings on his people. Remember how Saul hated David and how Cain hated Able because of God’s favor upon them. This envy and anger of Laban’s sons begins to prompt Jacob to leave the area because he knows how envy and anger can lead to the intent to harm, as was the case when Jacob fled from Esau.

Verse 2 tells us that Jacob also noticed that Laban’s attitude toward him was no longer favorable. So now both Laban and his sons are bitter toward Jacob, which seems like a bad thing but God is using these circumstances to further his plans for Jacob. It should encourage us to know that God even uses unfair hostility and and other negative circumstances to nudge us toward his purposes.

4. God actively works in his people’s lives by prompting them in the right direction.

Probably most of us have examples of how God used seemingly bad things to get our attention and prompt us in the right direction. It was only after this church experienced a small split that I was prompted to affiliate with Calvary Chapel. Another example of God using circumstances to prompt us in the right direction is a story that one of our elders Ken Tatje told me. Ken told me that it was only after being unfairly fired from Publix that he pursued a teaching career, which was God’s will for his life. The point is that God knows how to get us going in the right direction.

Read Genesis 31:3

In verse 3 we see another way that God prompts his people in the right direction. He uses divine revelation such as his Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. God confirms what Jacob is probably already thinking; maybe it’s time to return home. In the same way God will confirm his will to us. We cannot assume that negative circumstances mean that we should leave the situation, since many times God wants us to stay right where we are, even if it is difficult.

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