When we find ourselves on the verge of a new opportunity or a significant change in our lives, we need to silence all the voices and listen for what the Lord is telling us to do.
All right. What a blessing to be able to share this time with all of you. To desire to my soul, fills my heart with joy. To know that even though we are in some extraordinarily challenging times, we’re able to stay connected. I know it’s one of those things where we never quite know. When all this is going to turn around. It feels like we’ve been just having nonstop, uh, pressure and confusion.
And there’s just a low grade anxiety and discouragement that I, I sense with a lot of people. And I just want to encourage you. I do, to not give up. You’re my here, my church family and my friends we’re connected: near, far, together. I’m so thankful that we get to have, even as we’re having the beginnings of our church gathered, we’re still having so many of you.
In fact, the majority of us still sharing here online, together, and I am just grateful that God has allowed us to make this journey together. And I hope you feel supported and loved and encouraged. Fact that’s one of my prayers is that God would, by the time we’re done, have you greatly encouraged and strengthened in your faith.
So, uh, you know, even now let’s pray quick together. And I just ask you Lord to speak to us. You know what we need, you know the area of our greatest struggle and trouble. And as we’re going to see today, you’re not far. You’re right there. You want to help us. You want to show us the way forward, how we’re supposed to be in such a time.
I do ask that you would help us to trust you better. And I ask that we would really listen for Your words, that those words would just come alive in us. Be nourishment for us, protect us in every way and strengthen us, help us with our thinking patterns. Don’t let us fall back into negative thinking or bad habits.
And if we have found ourselves in a place where we feel a bit trapped or defeated, Lord help us to cast our eyes upon You. You’re the author and finisher of our faith. You don’t rub our faces in our failures. You help lift us up when we repent and turn to You, ask You for forgiveness or just strength so that we can be faithful to our key commitments.
You don’t turn us away. You meet us where we need it most. You’re the good shepherd. And I love you for that. Your promise over us is that you would never leave us nor forsake us and even now, be with us. Together I pray, as we share this time in Jesus name. Amen. Uh, you know, I’m pretty excited about today’s message because we’re going to explore one of the great principles
uh, not just spiritual leadership, but just life management in general. And this principle is something that we can not only apply in our life as we journey with the Lord, but it’s also something that we can apply in every place that we find ourselves having to make tough calls. Might be in at work, might be in some relational situations, might be in our home life.
You know, I don’t know. I just know that what we’re about to look at is so relevant and can work. I’m talking about, uh, the principle of the double-check. The principle of the double-check and why it’s important and helpful. Especially when we find ourselves on the verge of either a new opportunity or a significant shift point.
We find ourselves in a change moment, the principle of the double-check, it comes in huge. So, what we’re going to do is we’re going to watch how God works with Jacob around this principle, as he is on the verge of a key decision that will change the course of his life. But he’s not just thinking about his own life.
He’s thinking about the promises of God over his life that are connected to the generations to come. And so it makes what he’s wrestling with all the more potent and powerful. And as we sit with it, I’m hoping that we will be able to apply this to our own lives as well. We will find ourselves in places where we are going to have to make difficult decisions that have implications, not just for ourselves, but for the people we love.
And even for generations that we may not even have yet seen or will ever see in our lifetime. Oh, well, but the decisions we make will have an effect. And that’s also true just how, you know, the decisions we make can affect the relationships we have in our lives, the friendships as well. So this is relevant stuff.
Let’s return again, to the story of Jacob and connect it quickly, uh, and watch how Jacob, Joseph’s father also referred to in the scriptures as Israel. That was the other name that God gave him, Israel. And that’s a name that I think many of us recognize, right? The idea of being a prince with God. Now, when we come to this place in the scriptures that we’re jumping into, we must remember that Jacob is now, it’s now a much older man.
And he has been operating for over two decades, 22 years under the assumption that his beloved son, Joseph is dead. He. He finds out that he’s not only alive, but that Joseph actually has risen in- comprehensively. No one could have seen this in a way that it just seems inconceivable, but Joseph had actually risen to a place of tremendous power and prominence in Egypt.
And this was something that nobody, uh, it was just out of the realm of what, what seemed even realistically possible. And what’s happening here is that he is being given an invitation by, uh, Joseph to return to Egypt because remember there’s been a famine scorching famine in the land of Canaan and their family is in jeopardy and Joseph, under the direction of the Lord,
has set aside a tremendous amount of resource and food in the land of Egypt. So along with his position in power, there, there isn’t, uh, an economic rationale for Jacob to listen to Joseph, because it just makes sense that that this provision from God is there. And I’m gonna talk a little bit more about that, uh, in, in a few minutes, but let’s go back and just jump right in here.
Genesis 45. Let’s talk about, uh, quickly what Joseph said to his brothers and what was relayed to Jacob. And then we’ll watch the, how God begins to work with Jacob around, um, a decision that must be made. Genesis 45. Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, thus says your son, Joseph, God has made me Lord of all Egypt come down to me.
Don’t tarry. You shall dwell in the land of Goshen. Goshen was the prime real estate by the Nile river, the Nile Delta. And, and Joseph says, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children and your foxing, your herds, and all that you have. And there I will provide for you for there are there are yet five.
Tell him this. There are yet five years of famine. I mean, you think it’s bad now, it’s going to get way worse. It’s going to be a blistering season that’s ahead of us. And you just need to come, you and your household and all that you have, so that you don’t come to poverty. And then we’re told that they went back and they, and they told their father, they told their father Jacob, and remember his reaction real quick here.
And they left Egypt return to their father. Jacob, the land of Canaan, Joseph is still alive. They told them that whoever said it first, I don’t know, but it had to be massaged in there. Right. He, and he’s not only alive, but he’s the governor of all the land of Egypt. Joseph J. Joseph. Joseph Jacob was stunned at the news.
He couldn’t believe it remember, but when they repeated a Jacob, everything, Joseph had told them. And when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, their father’s spirit spirits revived, and then Jacob, exclaimed it. It must be true. My son, Joseph is alive. I must go and see him before I die. So the immediate reaction of Jacob was an instantaneous connection that this clearly was a miracle,
a provision of God, not only was Joseph alive, but Joseph had been raised up by God, God, to prepare a way for them to be delivered. And it just seemed like a no brainer that they were supposed to go and accept this invitation and traveled down to Egypt and save their family in the midst of this relenting uh unrelenting famine.
This is the Israel. Look at this verse one of chapter 46 of the book of Genesis. So Israel that’s Jacob, took his journey with all that he had. So the entire clan. They were nomadic, but they, they packed everything up and they got all their provisions ready and they started to move. And it says that he came to Beer sheba and offer sacrifices to the God of his father
Isaac always tying it into the, to the generation before him. There’s Sheba today in modern Israel, it’s known as Beer- Sheba. Uh, Beer- Sheba is the largest city in the Negev desert of Southern Israel. It’s often referred to as the Capitol of the Negev. It is the center of the fourth, most populous metropolitan area in Israel today.
You know, this is, uh, an, a place that you can see. But in Jacob’s time Beer- Sheba was the region where he had grown up. It was like 40 miles south of Hebron for looking on an ancient map. There was a distance between Hebron and Beer- Sheba, but it was, it was kind of like the place, not only where he had his earliest years and memories, but it was also a place that would be the last real stopping point before you entered into Egypt.
And, uh, you know, Jacob is old. I mean, he’s really old. He has no idea that he’s going to live just an exceptionally long life, but he’s aged well over a hundred years of age, you know, part of that was that Mediterranean diet, but, um, What is fascinating. And what I want us to notice is that Jacob feels compelled to stop.
So again, they’ve started on this journey. There’s excitement. I’m going to see Joseph, God’s done this, God’s in this, you know, we’re heading to Egypt so that we can all be saved. And as he’s on the way he stops at Beer- Sheba. And I think for at least two reasons, he pauses, he pauses. We’re told here, uh, to sacrifice to God and, and to remember the Lord, uh, at least part of it has to do with a need to remember and reflect for, for, I think that Israel knows that this will in all likelihood be his last time, the last time he would gaze upon the, the land, the literal land of his youth, the place where he had grown up, the geography of,
and the environment and the feel and the smell and all that, the land represented and connected him back to: the promise that God gave to his grandfather, Abraham. And then of course, uh, Isaac, his father, it, it, in, and his mother as well, Rebecca, it’s just, there was so much here. And, you know, I, I, I was thinking about this moment and I remembered a film that I watched years ago is actually a very well-done film.
That one, uh, it won a number of awards. It was, uh, in 1985, it was called, uh, The Trip to Bountiful. And, uh, it was set in 1940s, Texas featuring a magnificent performance by a terrific actress named Geraldine Page that actually garnered her an Academy award for the Best Actress, but in the film, in the story in the story, uh, her character wants to see her childhood home
one last time and that’s the driving force of the film. She just, she, she knows that she’s nearing the end of her life and it really matters to her to go back and to see the place where her earliest memories were and to connect to them and to sit with them and to see, uh, the, the, the environment where, uh, where she had grown up.
And, and it’s, you know, there’s also another part of the film that I love it. It’s the, hymn, uh, the classic hymn Softly and Tenderly. It plays such a prominent role in and out of the film, you know, “softly and tenderly Jesus is calling.” So it sets the tone for a lot of the film and it reminds us of the fleeting nature of life and the power of memory.
That’s, you know, those are really significant things. And every now and then, especially as you get older, you find yourself drifting into the places where you think about, uh, life and what has been, and somewhere along the way, you know, more of what has been is behind us than we sense what will be ahead of us?
And it’s not uncommon to want to go back and at least spend something, uh, some, some time to connect and to remember, and I think something similar was happening for Jacob here in Beer Sheba, because it was a place of memories. Was there were memories connected to this land memories of his deeply loved mother, Rebecca and his father, Isaac, whose name Isaac, Isaac meant laughter and Jacob was the son of laughter.
Right? And now the years had passed. And he was old and in his bones, he knew that this would, if he decided to go down to Egypt, would most likely be the last time he would set his eyes upon this land of the desert that he had loved and had meant so much to him. And there’s simply something simply, you know, deeply moving that occurs when we feel or sense that we are saying goodbye to something or someone we have come to love, uh, or a place we have come to cherish for the last time.
I’ve had a few of those moments and, uh, where I, I had had a sense that this is the last time how I’ll see your face, you know, uh, how the last time I will smile with you. And this may be the last time I’ll ever be here. Or be able to do this. And that creates a unique emotion, a unique feeling that’s hard to describe
it often brings it. It often brings a kind of aching in the heart. Some of you know what I’m talking about, you know, what I’m talking about and it’s something that’s so uniquely human. It sets us apart from the rest of creation, none of it, none of the other, uh, parts of God’s creation have this God-like dynamic capacity inside, the ability to have melancholy feelings, the sense of letting go, the sense of memory, the sense of, of the mixture of the beautiful and the bitter, the, the commingling of, of the joy and gratitude
and the meaning with also an understanding of loss and letting go. And so this is something that’s happening with Jacob right now. He’s he’s wrestling with this moment. He’s sitting with it. He wants to be here one last time. And I said, though, there were two reasons. And actually think the second was even more significant than the first that I just mentioned.
And it actually is a critical piece of the way of blessing because before Jacob Israel ever wants, decides that he’s going to make that final shift before he walks across the edge, he wants to one more time, settle his heart and surrender his fear. to God, the God of his father, Isaac and his grandfather, Abraham, because there’s a part of him that has a deep appreciation for the fact that that land that he is, he is in right now.
Wow. Is part of the land of promise. And it’s not something that he’s supposed to treat lightly or just in a cavalier moment, leave behind. I mean, this, this means something. And so he, he builds an altar and he prays and he sacrifices and he waits. And we must remember that even though all indications pointed to the fact that it must be God, who’s opening up the door for them to go down to Egypt.
And, you know, from the natural, if you look at it, there’s, uh, everything points. It’s time to go. Everything does from a natural standpoint, the famine in the land of Canaan was unrelenting. They were in real peril. It wasn’t just economic downturn. It was economic meltdown. And in Egypt, food was available because of the seemingly miraculous provision of God through Joseph, how could you, ignore it, it looked so clear.
This was God’s doing, Joseph said it, the brothers were saying it, Jacob felt it. And that connects also to there’s an emotional side of this for Jacob. I mean, not only is there a natural practical side to this, there’s a, there’s an emotional side to this because he, he longs to see Joseph. The news of, of Joseph being alive had filled him with joy and a deep yearning to see the face of the son that he loved
that reminded him, him, so much of the wife of his youth, Rachel. He just assumed Joseph had been lost to him forever. And, and now it was, well, to see his face again, would be to satisfy an old man’s dream and he wanted to go. So it made sense naturally it made sense emotionally. And then you must remember that, you know, again, I mentioned this as well, but not just from the practical standpoint of provision, but from the practical standpoint, they had already got going.
They were already on the move. They were already, they had got themselves, you know, their supplies were lined up. They had made all the arrangements they needed to make. They had started an arduous journey with the intention of reaching a destination. They had made up their mind, they were on their way.
Not unlike when a lot of times a we- we are wrestling with something. We come to the conclusion. Once we start, I usually don’t turn back on, but now on the edge, as he’s getting right close to that moment where he’s going to get into Egypt, he hesitates. His spirit is not at peace. He must hear the voice at least one last time, one final time, because there are are many voices stirring within him.
And he’s feeling a little bit confused. Some people would say, well, isn’t he being double-minded? I don’t think so. I think there’s a fine line between this. The Bible clearly reminds that there is a danger in being double-minded a double-minded man we’re told a double minded person is unstable and all their ways.
You don’t always want to be going this way and that way, and I’m not sure maybe this or that. There, there is a, actually a wisdom here of not ignoring something that is stirring within and wanting to double check that this is what God wants, despite all the arrows pointing in that direction. And I love that.
I love that. And Joseph is someone that Jacob wants to see, but that’s not going to be more important to him than doing what God wants and he’s not taking it lightly. And I remember reading a quote from Nobel prize, winning author, Pearl book Buck, who said “every great mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied.”
This was what Jacob was double-checking and he’s doing what we should all train ourselves to do. If we’re wise that in the midst of this highly emotional situation, when all the momentum feels, you know, all the energy is pushing, he pulls aside to humbly and honestly seek God and give the Lord an opportunity to check his spirit.
And this is such a sign of maturity that I hope you and I are hearing it clearly. I mean that old adage, uh, measure twice, cut once. Yes. Just what exactly it applies right here. This is exactly what Jacob is doing, and this is where it pays to slow down. Yeah, it really does. Just because listen to me, listen to me just because a door opens.
Does not auto- matically mean we should walk through it. Just because a door opens does not automatically mean we should walk through it. I’ve watched many people over the years. In my mind in my assessment, they’ve made a mistake because they just automatically assume that if the door opened for a new job or a new opportunity to invest that, you know, it was going, it was God, it, there are other factors that need to be calculated and weighed in and prayed over and considered.
And when I, what I love about Jacob is he’s putting it all on the table. He’s not allowing what he wants in his, in his own heart to be, you know, be somebody that pushes him into a place where he might move outside of God’s covering. I think he really wants to honor the Lord. It’s not just the fear of making a mistake.
It’s the desire to honor God and to stay connected to the promise. And so he really wants to make sure that he’s not being presumptuous or misreading the field. He wants to ask God for confirmation and look what it says here. Again, just going back. It says that God spoke to hint to Israel in visions of the night and said, Jacob, Jacob.
And he said, I love this. Here I am. And then he said, I am God. The God of your father do not be afraid to go down to Egypt. For there I will make you into a great nation. A couple of things that I really want us to notice right here. One God spoke to him as he had done in the past. Don’t miss that in a nightvision.
As I pondered this, I reflected on how God often speaks to us and guides us in ways that are familiar to us. This is especially true for someone who has been following the Lord for more than a little while. If we’re newer to the Lord, uh, this may may not, we may not have enough experience yet. And if we haven’t even come to Christ yet, or we’re just getting close to surrendering our life to Him, or we’ve just begun that journey, you know, this is a learning process, a growing process.
We don’t get there all at once. Uh, there’s a way to recognize the voice of the Lord. What I’ve found is that the Lord usually speaks to us in critical moments of our life in familiar ways, in familiar ways. For some of us it’s when we read His words and ponder them and we journal perhaps, and it’s in the
way of, of approaching God that we gained clarity. Others of us, it is connected to maybe times of prayer and, and long thoughts like in the mist, sometimes in the midst of nature, this is where a lot of, a lot of my, um, deeper moments of clarity with the Lord have come. Not all of them, but many of them, when I’m awake, cut off from all the other voices I can listen, see, this is like, what’s going on here with Jacob.
I can listen for the Lord who has spoken to me in the past, and I’m not caught off guard. When he speaks to me in a familiar way. For others of us, it might have to do with know where, where the Lord speaks to us when we’re worshiping him, or when we’re listening to a message like this one, where are our focus is intentionally fixed.
And we hear God speak to us through the word, like a word within the word. That’s what I talk about. And I probably have had the Lord speak to me in different ways in all of, you know, in each one of those different, you know, uh, methods and, and experiences. But there’s usually a dominant way that the Lord speaks to us.
And, and those of us who had followed Jesus, sincerely, I didn’t say perfectly sincerely with humility and honesty. We’ll find that over time, we begin to develop dominant ways of communicating with the Lord dominant ways of hearing his voice. Practices in places where we are most likely to hear his voice with greater clarity.
And they’re usually going to be patterns that are tailored to our uniqueness and they continue through out our lives. And it’s good to reflect on that. It’s good to sit with that. How does the Lord tend to speak to me? Where is the place where I usually hear him best because it’s helpful in times of unique trouble or when we find ourselves at a juncture point where we need, you know, an opportunity has arisen.
A change is occurring and we need tremendous discernment and wisdom. It’s really helpful to know how we, we tend to hear from the Lord and the place where that, that tends to happen and just return to the familiarity of how God has dealt with this deeply in the past as a way of gaining discernment for the present.
But the other thing that I noticed. Is that God speaks specifically into his fear. So that’s another thing worth noting. He not only does God speak to him in a way that is familiar, but God speaks specifically into his fear. Now hear me out, if fear had always been a struggle for Jacob, admittedly, not all of his fears were unfounded, but it was for Jacob.
If you look at him, it was his dominant struggle and it was where he was most likely to drop into manipulation and trust his own counsel just as there are unique ways that God speaks to us. Listen loved ones. There is often the case that we also have unique struggles. That’s what I’m saying here. There is a very real sense that we are all the same in many ways, but at the same time, we’re very different.
There is a uniqueness that we must take into account when we are pursuing the way of blessing. The good and bad of them. Just be honest for their clues to how God is going to want to work with us. Notice how God works with Jacob. Remember he tends to drop into fear in his fear. He tends to manipulate, but he’s really creating space to listen for God.
Going back to that second verse, for as God spoke to Israel and visions of the night and said, Jacob, Jacob, and he said, here I am. Then he said, I am God. The God of your father do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt and I will bring you also again, up again.
And Joseph’s hands shall close your eyes. Do not be afraid for I will be with you. What a promise. Like he speaks right into his fear. Don’t be afraid you not letting me down. Uh it’s okay. You’re okay. You don’t have to be afraid about what’s ahead of you. It’s okay. I’m with you. You know? Cause when the Lord is with us, we have nothing to be afraid of
But a couple of things. In addition to the green light there, the Lord tells him this will be a one-way trip, or is there in this foreign land that you will leave this world and come to me and Joseph will close your eyes and be with you when you breathe your last breath, he will be with you at the end.
And it will be in Egypt that you will become one more thing, a great nation. And in that sense, he was assuring Jacob that he wasn’t making a mistake, that the promise that was given to Abraham and Isaac and him would indeed come to pass that they, and that it’s also going to be true. That those who spring from you will in a certain way, allow you to return to this place, this place of promise.
Now it’ll be in a different way than, than you’re thinking. It’ll, it’ll be not with you literally coming back here. It’ll be you coming back here. For God could see what Jacob could not. He saw the multiplication of the children of Israel and their coming bondage, but also the re re rising of a deliverer, right?
Moses and the establishment of the Passover and the Exodus and the way back to the promised land. And then of course, God saw with Jacob could never see that there would come from his very loins, the ultimate deliverer of Jesus, not just the Messiah, but the savior of the world. And Jacob though, a catalyst would see none of it with his eyes, but in his heart, there was given to him and assurance that all was well, let me close with this fifth verse.
Then Jacob set out from Beersheba, the sons of Israel carry Jacob, their father, their little ones in their wives, in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent to carry him. And so we see a journey begins that will end as a gift for all of us, the way of blessing. And we have a final song to share, and then actually behind that
I have a final thought to submit to you and to share, but I do wanna remind everyone, and this is the time that I get to do at a about our time of giving. And some of you have just been, you just been off the charts, you’ve been so faithful in your tithes and your offerings. Remember you can send it in the traditional way.
You can give online through our website, or you can do what I do, which is give through our Cornerstone app. But the key, if you can, and I say this to our church community, that, you know, you give Him first your heart, it’s the way of blessing. So here we go, a song about how the Lord can make a way. And then I come back around.