FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Words For Reflection:
Jacob’s remarkable encounter (re: Gen. 32) reminds [God’s people] that they too may encounter God in ambiguity, even in apparent hostility, in mystery cloaked in darkness, and in such humility that he restrains himself from dominating their lives. When they stop wrestling with God and start clinging to him, they discover that he has been there for their good, to bless them. – Bruce Waltke
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: Mark 11:1-11
All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name - Adoration
Hail to the Lord’s Anointed - Adoration
Jesus, Lover of My Soul - Grace
Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me - Response
Thy Will Be Done - Communion
Doxology - Old 100th
The Bible Project:
As a way to help you grasp the over-arching story of the Bible, I am going to include each week a link to one of The Bible Project videos.
This week check out Exile.
If you are looking for help to read the Bible in a more regular way, you may find this approach and this app helpful.
Singing To God (Psalm 95:1-5)
Before The Throne Of God Above
Because the sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me
Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)
Prayer of Confession
Father in heaven, we need to be forgiven. We have tried to work off our guilt and shame; to pile up good deeds that outweigh our bad deeds. We have tried to change through our own efforts. When this doesn’t work, we turn to denial and distraction, leaving some of us arrogant and the rest of us anxious and depressed. Forgive us for thinking we could save ourselves rather than resting in the merits of Jesus Christ. Forgive us for our pride. Forgive us and heal us, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Words of Grace
22 Thus says the Lord God:… 26 I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
Ezekiel 36:22, 26-27
Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)
Sermon Text - Genesis 32
The anticipation of confronting your past (v. 1-21)
The blessing of confronting your past (v. 22-32)
The Heart of the Message
Last week we finished the Jacob and Laban narrative (chapters 28-31). With chapter 32 we pick up twenty years later where chapter 27 left off. By the end of chapter 27 Jacob had deceived his father Isaac and stolen his older brother Esau’s blessing. In 27:41 we read, “Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, ‘The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.’” As Jacob now begins his journey home, he must confront his past and specifically who he really is as a deceiver and a cheat (27:35-36). How will Esau respond? Jacob doesn’t know and we don’t find out until chapter 33. But confront his past he must. For Jacob confronting his past involves three ingredients: fear (vs. 1-8), prayer (v. 9-12), and vulnerability (v. 13-21). Jacob’s fear leads him to pray which in turn leads him to move toward his brother not knowing how he will respond. For Jacob everything about confronting his past hangs on God’s promise to do him good and to bring him home and to bless him (v. 9, 12; re: 28:13-15). However, even as Jacob moves toward his brother Esau, God meets him in order to bless him. The mysterious man who wrestles with Jacob is a divine messenger identified as God (v. 30). Jacob struggles with God and then clings to God. This encounter shows Jacob he doesn’t confront his past alone. God confronts his past by asking him his name and giving him a new name. God is saying, I know who you truly are and yet I going to give you a new name. Your past must no longer define you. Your new name, that I have given you, is now what must define you. This story is a picture of the gospel. God in Christ confronting our past as individuals and as a race. The God-man coming to take our name as his name and in turn giving us his name! The good news of the gospel is God’s grace confronting who we truly are in order to give us a future and a hope that is rooted in Christ and his work not in our past and our effort to out run it.
What features of this passage stand out to you the most? What words or phrases or ideas grab your attention?
When have you had to confront your past? What was that like? (For example, returning home for a high school reunion.)
Which experience do you most resonate with when confronting your past: fear, prayer, or vulnerability?
What do we learn about God and his grace in the struggling and clinging of Jacob? (v. 24-31)
Why is it so hard for us to move toward our past rather than ignore it or run from it? (re: vs. 13-21) How does Jesus’ work to confront your past give you the courage to do the same?
Confession of Faith: The Westminster Shorter Catechism, c. 1648
Q. 15. What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?
A. The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created, was their eating the forbidden fruit.