FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Words For Reflection:
Whatsoever is good for God's children they shall have it; for all is theirs to help them towards heaven; therefore if poverty be good they shall have it; if disgrace or crosses be good they shall have them; for all is ours to promote our greatest prosperity. - Richard Sibbes
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: Genesis 29:31-30:24
Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder - Adoration
Depth of Mercy - Confession
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross - Grace
O Love that Will Not Let Me Go - Response
Thy Mercy, My God - Communion
Doxology - Tallis Canon
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 Metaphor in Biblical Poetry.
If you are looking for help to read the Bible in a more regular way, you may find this approach and this app helpful.
A Personal Word:
I want to take a brief moment to offer an apology for how I spoke about Leah and Rachel this past Sunday in retelling the story. I fear my language came across as damaging and degrading about women as image bearers of God. That was certainly not my intention and I apologize if my words were hurtful or unhelpful to you. If they were, please know I would welcome the opportunity to talk with you should you want to.
Singing To God (Psalm 95:1-5)
How Sweet To Wait
How sweet to wait upon the Lord,
While he fulfills his gracious word;
To seek his face, and not in vain,
To be beloved, and love again!
Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)
Prayer of Confession
Father, the more we delve into the depths of our sin, the uglier and more heinous it becomes. If we promise to do better, we lie. If we try to clean ourselves up, we are frauds. If we give because we feel guilty, we are schemers. If we serve to feel good about ourselves, we are self-righteous. If we pray only to get what we want, we are self-serving. If we read your Word so you will be pleased with us, we are manipulators. The selfish motivations of even our best actions condemn us. Please forgive us and help us to look only to the life-saving, life-giving, life-changing power of Your Son Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
Words of Grace
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)
Sermon Text - Genesis 29:1-30
The blessing of providence (v. 1-14)
The discipline of providence (v. 15-30)
The Heart of the Message
Jacob emerges as the central character in Genesis from chapter 28-35. His story is full of ups and downs and good and bad. He sins. He repents. But what holds this whole story together? It is God’s word to Jacob in 28:13-15 in which God reiterates his covenant promises to Jacob and then says, “I am with you and I will keep you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Therefore, the next 7 chapters tell the story of how God will fulfill his word in Jacob’s life. We begin to see God’s promise unfold in chapter 29. God goes with Jacob and blesses him with a successful journey to Haran, his uncle Laban’s house, where he hopes to find a wife per his parents’ directions (Gen. 27:43 & 28:1-5). Upon arriving he meets his cousin Rachel and eventually enters into an agreement with his uncle to work seven years in exchange for Rachel’s hand in marriage. However, Laban has different plans and deceives Jacob. Instead of giving Jacob Rachel, he gives Jacob Leah. Leah, the older sister takes the place of Rachel, the younger sister. The irony is Jacob, the younger brother took the place of Esau, the older brother. Jacob’s experience in Laban’s house serves as God’s instruction and discipline to help Jacob see his sin and wrongdoing, which is obviously still a work in progress based on how he treats Leah compared to Rachel. There is so much about this story that goes against the grain of God’s original design and intention for his people. Yet what we also see is human sin is no match for God’s promise to fulfill his word in your life. In fact, the same dynamics at work in this story are at work in Jesus’ story. Despite the actions and deception of evil and wicked men that led to Jesus’ death, God overrules it all (Acts 2:23). Despite the best efforts of those men to get rid of Jesus, God uses it to show the lengths to which he was willing to go to fulfill his word. The good news of the story for us is that in Jesus we are given all the blessings of God and in Jesus we are spared all the punishment we deserve. As a result, the discipline we experience is nothing but a Father’s love working in our lives the peaceful fruit of righteousness (Heb. 12:7-11).
What features of this passage stand out to you the most? What words or phrases or ideas grab your attention?
Why is it so important to look for how God is present and active in the stories of scripture?
What happens to Jacob when God shows up?
How does v. 12 and v. 17 anticipate the coming of Jesus?
How is God changing what you see in the midst of your in between life? (see v. 16)
How is God changing the loyalties of your heart in the midst of your in between life? (v. 18-22)
Confession of Faith: The Westminster Shorter Catechism, c. 1648
Q. 11. What are God's works of providence?
A. God's works of providence are his most holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.