"The Power of Transforming Grace"
Can God Use Me?
My past is marred by sin. I’ve got the scars, the tattoos, the wounds and the memories of all that I’ve done wrong. Can God use me?
Can God Use Me?
Other Christians can help the poor and give money to the church, but I’m barely getting by. I need help from others to just make it day by day. Can God use me?
Can God Use Me?
I struggle academically. The people in my Bible study group talk about commentaries and concordances, Word Studies and famous preachers. I barely made it through High School. Can God use me?
Can God Use Me?
I’m not outspoken. I could never lead a Bible study, and even the idea of witnessing terrifies me. Can God use me?
Can God Use Me?
My life is a mess! I’ve got financial problems, family problems and my marriage is falling apart. I see Christian families with their kids all neat and pretty, and my life will NEVER fit that picture. Can God use me?
Today we will study a story from Scripture that focuses on the question of our ability to be used by God. It is the story of Jacob and Essay from Genesis 25. This story contains more than just interesting history about Israel’s patriarchs. It is a story that is repeated in both Old and New Testaments about God’s grace.
Genesis 25:21–34 "Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived. " "But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is so, why then am I this way?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. " "The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples will be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger.” " "When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. " "Now the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau. " "Afterward his brother came forth with his hand holding on to Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob; and Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth to them. " "When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field, but Jacob was a peaceful man, living in tents. " "Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. " "When Jacob had cooked stew, Esau came in from the field and he was famished; " "and Esau said to Jacob, “Please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished.” Therefore his name was called Edom. " "But Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” " "Esau said, “Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?” " "And Jacob said, “First swear to me”; so he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. " "Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and rose and went on his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright."
The position of Jacob and Esau is presented in the following verse from this passage:
Genesis 25:28 "Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob."
Here’s the crux of the story - According to cultural practice and custom, Esau was the inheritor of the family legacy. He would receive a double portion of the father’s inheritance, as well as the primary position of family honor. But Jacob was chosen by God instead of Esau, who traded away his first born privileges to satisfy his hunger (Gen 25:29-34).
Esau was also a natural choice for assuming this position.
He was a Skillful Hunter (in a remote world). Genesis 25:27 "When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field, but Jacob was a peaceful man, living in tents."
He was his Father’s Favorite (in a man-ruled world). Gen 25:28 “Isaac loved Jacob”
He was the Firstborn (in a world of pecking-order rules).
In today’s terms.....ESAU, would be the Navy Seal, the captain of the football team, the guy with the square chin, good looks, and chiseled abs, the extrovert, the straight A student, the king of the prom, the guy with a full ride to college, the man’s man, drives a 4WD Pickup, the guy who could fix a car, climb a mountain, field dress a cat, and order his meal in Italian. His Weakness was that he was IMPETUOUS
JACOB would be the introvert. The captain of the chess club, the guy with allergies, an inhaler, and his doctors phone # on speed dial, the skinny kid picked last for dodgeball, the guy who reads poetry and no date to the prom, the thinker, the day-dreamer, the mamma’s boy, the guy who drives a Prius, who gets a stomach ache from EATING Italian. His Weakness was that he was CRAFTY and deceitful.
Jacob was a mama’s boy - his MAMA’s favorite. His mother Rebekah Plotted to deceive Isaac when it was time for Isaac to bless his two sons (Gen 27:5-10). Rebekah was quite possibly involved in deceiving Esau over the birthright - Gen 25:29. The text uses this same phrase “Esau was out in the open country” to describe Esau’s location when he sold his birthright and when he lost the blessing due to Rebekah and Jacob’s deception. The idea is that Esau was out in the fields while Jacob was home, near mama’s apron strings.
Why Did God favor Jacob, when Esau was the Natural Choice?
The answer to this question is given in Romans 9:10-24
Romans 9:10–24 "And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; " "for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, " "it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” " "Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” " "What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! " "For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” " "So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. " "For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” " "So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. " "You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” " "On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? " "Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? " "What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? " "And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, " "even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles."
Just as the BIRTHS of ISAAC and ISHMAEL taught us a lesson about God’s PROMISE, so The BIRTHS of Jacob and Esau teach us a lesson about God’s MERCY
Our sense of FAIRNESS wants to focus on ESAU and asks the question, “why was Esau NOT CHOSEN?”
But the focus of the illustration is not ESAU, but JACOB.
The focus is a POSITIVE FOCUS on God’s choosing Jacob, even though Esau.
(1) God is not unjust (Rom 10:14)
(2) God is not arbitrary (Rom 10:23 “What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory.”)
Herein lies an important Spiritual Principle: God displays His power through those the world overlooks. - He does this so that HE gets the glory. This truth is most clearly explained in 1 Corinthians 1:26–31 "For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; " "but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, " "and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, " "so that no man may boast before God. " "But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, " "so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”"
We return to the key question - Can God Use Me?
If we want to be used by God, we must seek His MERCY, not his JUSTICE.
If we want God to RECEIVE US, we must seek his MERCY, not his Justice.
JUSTICE = I earn my place with God
MERCY = I don’t deserve a place with God. I come as a destitute beggar.
Randy Aly communicates this truth in a story about God’s grace.
NO JACKET REQUIRED (By Randy Aly - accessed on sermoncentral.com)
I shook my head in disbelief. This couldn’t be the right place. After all, I couldn’t possibly be welcome here. I had been given an invitation several times, by several different people, and had finally decided to see what this place was all about. But, this just couldn’t be the right place. Quickly, I glanced down at the invitation that I clutched in my hand. I scanned past the words, "Come as you are. No jacket required." and found the location. Yes, I was at the right place. I peered through the window again and saw a room of people whose faces seemed to glow with joy. All were neatly dressed, adorned in fine garments and appeared strangely clean as they dined at this exquisite restaurant.
Ashamed, I looked down at my own tattered and torn clothing, covered in stains. I was dirty, in fact, filthy. A foul smell seemed to consume me and I couldn’t shake the grime that hung to my body. As I turned around to leave, the words from the invitation seemed to leap out at me..."Come as you are. No jacket required." I decided to give it a shot. Mustering up every bit of courage I could find, I opened the door to this restaurant and walked up to a man standing behind a podium. "Your name, sir?" he asked me with a smile. "Jimmy D. Brown," I mumbled without looking up. I thrust my hands deep into my pockets, hoping to conceal their stains. He didn’t seem to notice the filth that I was covered in and he continued, "Very good, sir. A table is reserved in your name. Would you like to be seated?" I couldn’t believe what I heard! A grin broke out on my face and I said, "Yes, of course!"
He lead me to a table and, sure enough, there was a place card with my name written on it in a deep, dark red. As I browsed over a menu, I saw many delightful items listed. There were things like, "peace," "joy," "blessings," "confidence," "assurance,"hope," "love," "faith," and "mercy." I realized that this was no
ordinary restaurant! I flipped the menu back to the front in order to see where I was ... "God’s Grace," was the name of this place!
The man returned and said, "I recommend the ’Special of the Day’. With it, you are entitled to heaping portions of everything on this menu." You’ve got to be kidding! I thought to myself. You mean, I can have ALL of this! "What is the ’Special of the Day’ I asked with excitement ringing in my voice. "Salvation," was his reply.
"I’ll take it," I practically cried out. A sick, painful ache jerked through my stomach and tears filled my eyes. Between my sobs I said "Mister, look at me. I’m dirty and nasty. I’m unclean and unworthy of such things. I’d love to have all of this, but, but, I just can’t afford it. Undaunted, the man smiled again. "Sir, your check has already been taken care of by that Gentleman over there," he said point to the front of the room. "His Name is Jesus." Turning, I saw a man whose very presence filled the room. Walked to Him and in a shaking voice I whispered, "Sir, I’ll wash the dishes or sweep the floors or take out the trash. I’ll do anything I can do to repay you for all of this." He opened His arms and said with a smile, "Son, all of this is yours if you just come to me. Ask me to clean you up and I will. Ask me to take away the stains and it is done. Ask me to allow you to feast at my table and you will eat.
Remember, the table is reserved in your name. All you must do is accept this gift that I offer you."
Can God Use Me?
All of Jacob’s blessings were supernatural - things that only God could do
- Flocks that multiplied (Gen 30)
- God blessed Laban on account of Jacob (Gen 30:27)
- Jacob learned to rely completely on the LORD
If you are an ESAU - blessed with natural talent, position and potential
- Rely fully on the LORD
In order to be saved and have a relationship with God, we must rely fully on his GRACE and not our own effort. Ephesians 2:8–9 "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; " "not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."