Summary: Knowing that God goes with us changes everything- especially our lives of worship and giving.
Doing what comes naturally
I was intrigued by this article about the ministry and leadership that I saw this week. The author began by describing why he was credible. He explained how he started his own communications business in the 70’s. It was instantly successful. He landed an account with soon to be President Reagan. He started a spin off business. The company was listed in a national magazine. Sales were skyrocketing. Then during the 80’s things went south. His top three executives left to start their own companies. Sales plummeted. He had to close one of his businesses. He was in serious debt. He checked over the balance sheet. He considers this his investment in leadership training- a $2,000,000 investment!
One of the first lessons he learned was about pride. He said that he was thinking he was pretty important and self-sufficient. But during this time a friend pointed him to the Bible. He learned that God granted success. When his business was failing he realized he couldn’t do it alone. He needed God to go with him. At that critical point in his life He needed God on his side. Don’t we all. Today we’ll explore God’s faithfulness and see what a huge difference it makes in our life. Today God tells us "I am with you so do what comes naturally."
Meet Jacob. He was Abraham’s grandson. Isaac was his father. Perhaps we remember him best because he did not get along with his brother Esau. In fact, the rivalry became so bad that Jacob ran away from home. His mother told him to! His brother is ready to kill him because of the way he deceived his father and pilfered the family inheritance. As he is on his way to a place hundreds of miles away Jacob stops to get a stone upon which to lay his head. Now we’ve all stayed in some cheap motels but.. Yes, we could say that he is between a rock and hard place. He is at a critical time in his life. Running from home. Unsure of the future. With his cloak on his back. A rock beneath him. Stars above him. A guilty conscience inside him. Certainly he had to have questions about where he stood with God.
Perhaps we have all had questions like those. At key points in our life, at times when we face major decisions, at times of conflict, we wonder what will happen next. What are we going to do? I suppose we do what comes naturally. We are probably tempted to worry. When we feel all alone. The important part of the question is this: will God be with me? Is the Lord still near me? Those times become critical times for us. Will God be there?
Jacob gets a quick answer. He goes to sleep. He sees angels walking up and down on a ladder. He sees the Lord on the top of that ladder. That vision spoke volumes. It reminded Jacob that even though heaven is a long ways from earth God is never out of touch. The Lord, and his angels, whom the Bible says are ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation, are right there to help. God was there to help. Jacob was all alone. But he wasn’t alone.
Then the Lord spoke volumes more. He said that he was going to bless Jacob. He said that he would receive this land. The Lord told him that his descendants would be blessed. He assured him that he would be with him and not leave until he was blessed. Jacob surely remembered, “That was the promise God gave my grandpa....and my father. What a promise! Despite what Jacob had done God told him he would be faithful. God would keep his promise and help him. Then the Lord said that all nations would be blessed through him. We know that’s the promise of our Savior Jesus, who is a blessing to everyone. Jacob didn’t deserve that. But God was faithful. Then the Lord said that he wouldn’t leave Jacob until he blessed him. Jacob wasn’t faithful, but God was. In those moments Jacobs worries and fears evaporated. They melted in God’s promise.
That’s great. Think what God has done for us. Consider how he has helped us. Think how God has blessed our country from last September to this September. Consider how he has kept evil from us. Remember how he has helped. We haven’t always been thankful, but God is faithful. How about our church. Our church isn’t the perfect church. But think how in the last year God has blessed us with volunteers who help, with faithful called workers. God has not just given us some land for a new facility but he has given us the ability to pay for it all! God is faithful. And our families. Your family. My family. We don’t have the perfect families. Yet think about the blessings we have received. Has God healed you of sicknesses, helped you at work, helped you to a different home, expanded your family, or called someone in your family home to heaven. We haven’t always been faithful, but God is faithful. In the moment that we realize it, that changes everything. It changes how we feel, what we think. It changes everything. At least it did for Jacob.