Summary: Part 4 of a series on the life of Jacob. Jacob changes his sons name from sorrow to "right hand" or strength. We also can choose how we look at our circumstances in life.

Name It What You Want

Dying To Self, Part 4

I was reading an article from the Wall Street Journal.

Wildlife researchers in Germany and the Czech Republic

have been studying migration patterns of deer

in the two countries,

and they were surprised to find out that

deer never cross between the two countries.

They think its because of what used to be known as the Iron Curtain.

Until 1989 there was a border fence,

part of what was known as the Iron Curtain,

that separated the countries,

but that fence came down in 1989

and now there’s a nature preserve

where the fence once was,

so it would be an ideal place for deer to graze,

but they don’t go there.

They used GPS tracking devices on the deer,

and realized that the deer come right up to

the area the fence once was, but don’t cross over.

What’s more strange is that,

the deer they’re studying now,

were born at least 20 years after the fence came down.

Wildlife filmmaker Tom Synnatzschke,

who often works in the area, says that

even thought the physical wall came down,

"The wall in the head is still there."

I wonder what walls you and I have in our heads,

that shape our lives in ways

that we have no clue about.

I wonder which painful events in our past,

are keeping us from enjoying life today.

If you have your bible, turn to Genesis chapter 28.

This is the last week in our series on the life of Jacob.

In case you haven’t been here the last 3 weeks,

let me summarize his story.

Jacob and Esau are born twins,

and Esau is older but Jacob manipulates him

to get his birthright,

then deceives and tricks to get his blessing,

and then because Esau wants to kill him,

Jacob runs away from home.

And on the way to his Uncle Laban’s house

Jacob stops for the night at a place he names Beth-el,

And he has a dream about God,

then wakes up and makes a vow…

Gen 28:20-22

20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father's household, then the Lord will be my God 22 and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth."

So he basically says,

God, I’ll serve and follow you if you help me out.

He’s trying to make a deal with God.

Then Jacob goes on to his uncles house,

he marries his Uncles two daughters and has a bunch of kids,

then 21 years later he leaves there,

and heads south again, to go back home.

And God tells him to go back to Bethel.

Gen 35:1-7

Then God said to Jacob, "Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau..."

Verse 6

Jacob and all the people with him came to Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan. 7 There he built an altar, and he called the place El Bethel, because it was there that God revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother.

Bethel means house of God.

The first time Jacob went to Bethel,

he was negotiating with God,

if you’ll do this for me, then I’ll do that,

if you’ll protect me then I’ll serve you.

Well, God kept all his promises.

So the second time Jacob went to Bethel,

he didn’t make deals,

he built an altar.

That’s one way to tell your life is growing spiritually,

when you stop making deals with God,

and start building altars,

because an altar represents a sacrifice,

a place where you lay your life down,

and say,

Not my will but your will be done.

I don’t know how to drive my life God,

so you take the wheel.

Now, when Jacob obeys God,

he returns to Bethel,

and makes the sacrifice that he promised to make,

we’re expecting that the next thing God will do,

is bless him, right?

That’s what we all kind of expect.

If I obey God, and honor him,

he’ll bless my life.

So we kind of expect this in Jacob’s life,

he just made a sacrifice to God at Bethel,

he did what God wanted him to do,

and so we expect God to bless him.

And God does bless Jacob, sort of…

It says,

Gen 35:16

16 Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth…

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