Summary: This sermon answers the question, "How did I get here?"
Have you ever had one of those moments where you stopped, looked at your life, and asked, “How did I get here?” This usually occurs when life doesn’t turn out as we expected. Divorce, bankruptcy, job loss, mid-life crisis, broken relationships, failure to obtain a goal or dream, health problems, legal troubles, etc., cause us to scratch our heads, blink our eyes, and ask “What just happened here?” Sometimes such a self examination leads to depression. Other times it spurs us to refocus and blaze a trail in a new direction. In our culture there are many who inevitably blame others for the path their life has taken.
This morning I want to put all the pieces together for you. If you want to know how you got here and how you can get to where you want to be, there are four factors that influence everyone’s life. Some are within your control others are not. You can’t determine exactly where your life is going to end up, but you can always have the blessed life that God intends. I’m not saying you’re going to be rich or famous or good looking or disease-free by following these guidelines. But there is a way to stay under God’s hand of blessing now and for the future. To be blessed means to enjoy a supernatural happiness and contentment from the Lord. It means a fruitful and fulfilling life, the very thing that God created you for. The blessed life becomes the life you’ve always wanted because it’s what you were designed for.
Please understand that what I’m going to tell you this morning is not self-help. It’s about the proper response to the overtures of a loving heavenly Father. His desire is that you live the blessed life now and in the future. It may turn our differently than you imagined but it is God’s optimal plan for you.
Let’s turn our attention, once again, to Genesis. As chapter 48 and 49 were being read you may have been puzzled by the meaning and purpose of it all. These chapters are filled with antiquated customs and archaic language. In fact, chapter 49 contains some of the most ancient Hebrew in the Old Testament. I’m positive it didn’t impress you though. More likely, the blessings of Jacob confused and then bored you. The problem is with our perspective.
As I’ve told you before, the original audience for Genesis was the generation of Israelites Moses led after their 40 year detour in the wilderness. These words were written as encouragement to the people who were about to cross over the Jordan River and retake Canaan, otherwise known as the Promised Land. We have to read chapters 48 and 49 from their perspective. Imagine those individual Israelites, after 430 years in Egypt. They looked around at the twelve tribes and noticed that some were thriving while others were hanging on by a thread. Some of the tribes loved God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, while others were, at best, indifferent to spiritual things. Some of the tribes would be given huge regions of land in Canaan while others would receive nothing. Imagine them sitting around their camp fires, scratching their heads, blinking their eyes, and saying, “How did we get here?”
Chapters 48 and 49 would have explained just what happened and why. They also would have provided some tangible ways that this new generation, with potentially a great future ahead of them, could live under God’s blessings. There are examples here to be emulated and behaviors to avoid. We can learn from them too.
Aims for the Life You’ve Always Wanted
1. Assess your past and present patterns
Human behavior matters when it comes to having the blessed life. Some of God’s blessings (but not all) are contingent on our actions. There are responsibilities and privileges from the Lord that are accessed or forfeited by the choices we make.
Let’s contrast Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn son, and Joseph, his eleventh. Normally, the firstborn son was granted family leadership and a double portion of the inheritance. Not so for Reuben. He was disinherited and removed from family leadership. Why? His pattern of bad behavior. Think back about Reuben. He appears to have done some good things. He prevented the brothers from outright murdering Joseph. Reuben intended to rescue him from the pit, but the brothers sold Joseph into slavery before he could do it. Later on Reuben offered to sacrifice his two sons for the safe return of Benjamin on the brothers’ second trip to Egypt. At times Reuben seemed to be a good guy, but Jacob’s prophetic blessing (or anti-blessing) revealed the truth about this man.
“Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it.” Genesis 49:4