Sermon Notes & Videos
It would seem that in creation mankind was clothed only in the skin on his body and in that form he reflected the glory of God. Something happened when sin came into the world. Man looked upon the glory of his own body, and instead of seeing the glory of God, he became afraid and attempted to cover what he now saw as “nakedness.” What took place next has great prophetic significance. God saw man’s new sense of embarrassment over his original glory and accommodated him by causing him to be covered with a “new skin”, an animal skin, a certain downgrade.
This downgrade would now plague mankind into the future and does not seem to have a complete resolution until the revealing of the sons of God, at which time “creation is restored.” Our ultimate hope is to be clothed with a restored heavenly image, so we shall not be found naked, like Adam.
The theme of being clothed in either sin and shame or glory and righteousness, is something that is well-defined in the life of Joseph. And this too is the exact choice you must make. “Do I remain clothed in sin and shame, or do I allow myself to be sanctified from glory to glory?” This, as I often say, depends on one thing only; will you take on your new identity in Christ, in other words, become a new creation, or do you insist on returning to the old you? It’s the choice every Christian must make.
And, taking on your new identity, or putting on a new skin that reflects God’s glory, is something that our Savior taught us in a short parable: He said it like this; “No one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” It’s time to put on your new wineskin!
Do you ever feel discouraged? Of course you do. How often is it because you are certain that God has made certain promises to you, and yet there is one disappointment after another? The twists and turns of the unexpected can get pretty exhausting, don’t you agree?
I’ll let you in on a little secret, one hiding in plain sight. Yahweh’s delay is not Yahweh’s denial. The Scriptures are filled with God’s promises and we could fill a book with how many times the journey towards those promises goes sideways. Wait a minute, we already have the book that is filled with those stories.
But seriously, you could probably fill a book with your own stories. And what I want to share with you today is how to be encouraged, even in the midst of what seems like a complete denial of God’s promises. Just think about Joseph; he had a few really incredible prophetic dreams in which he was promised a powerful role in leadership, however, on his journey he was stripped naked, sold into slavery, accused of rape, thrown into prison, and seemingly forgotten. And consider Tamar, Judah’s daughter-in-law, as she was promised three successive husbands from the sons of Judah, yet she remained childless.
Well, Joseph ultimately landed in command of the most powerful nation in the world, and Tamar gave birth to a son from whose line came the Messiah. No, God’s delays are definitely not His denial. They are just part of a much bigger plan. Think of if this way: How do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time!
It can get really confusing at times. A righteous anger rises up inside of you, or is it? It feels right; it must be right. Surely Yahweh will punish this heinous act. Surely He hates unrighteousness. I can read it in the Bible.
Just look at what He told Saul to do! “I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel…go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them.” And just read how He blessed Phinehas for ramming a spear through a Moabite harlot and her Israelite boyfriend; “Phinehas has turned back My wrath from Israel…because he was zealous with My zeal; …Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; and it shall be to him and his descendants…because he was zealous for his God.”
And yet, when Simeon and Levi jumped into action and killed Shechem, his father Hamor, and all the males of the city because Shechem raped their sister Dinah, their father Jacob was infuriated. He later calls them “self-willed instruments of cruelty” and removes a blessing from them.
So, how do you know if you are being a Phinehas or a Simeon? Paul had the answer; “…being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” Phinehas must have been acting in obedience, Simeon and Levi, not so much.
What motivated their behaviors? Phinehas was zealous for God, and made atonement for the children of Israel. In other words, his actions ended unrighteousness and saved lives. Jacob’s sons, on the other hand, killed many, plundered the city, took all the wealth, and enslaved wives and children. Their motivation was carnal and atoned for nothing. What is motivating your zeal these days and how do you know?
What’s your problem? You know, everyone has at least one. We’ve all witnessed or endured something significant. I would not have to press too hard for you to remember at least one serious event or circumstance that was so impactful that it is now lodged in your brain. It’s stuck in your mind as if it is actually engraved in your memory.
As you search your memories, and consider both sides of those meaningful events, whether you were the perpetrator or the victim, I am confident you will find several. And what you will notice, as much as you’d like to ignore it, and as painful as it might be to contemplate, the cycle of those traumas have repeated over and over again. I am sure this has made you wonder; “How can this keep happening?”
Well, the answer is rather simple…it boils down to our Behavioral Patterns. Whether you like it or not, we have all inherited corrupted DNA, just like Jacob. Let me be clear, this is not an excuse, especially for the Believer! Let’s just call it a reason, not an excuse. The Bible encourages us; “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Wouldn’t getting rid of those Behavioral Patterns be included in “all things”? The answer is a resounding YES!!
The Biblical account of Jacob’s journey, after he was asked to depart in search of a wife, points us to several Behavioral Patterns. We must, must recognize them; and even more critical, we must forbid ourselves from repeating them!
Think about how often we make cavalier statements. We sloppily allow words to stumble from our lips. We say things flippantly, without ever considering the power of words and the wrong thinking behind them. How many times have you said things like: “My neck is killing me,” or, “I’m starving to death.”? These are exaggerated statements that declare serious things we don’t really intend. Isn’t the truth more like: “My neck hurts,” and, “I’m hungry.”?
How about the way we diminish what words mean, at times, when we say things like: “I love my new truck; I love my job; I love my football team.” Love is not reserved for things, but for people. God is love and as much as you might enjoy your new “4 X 4”, you can’t love it!
Do you think I am making more of this than I should? Well, I bet Esau wished he could take back his words. He was simply tired and hungry, but said this instead. “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?” He didn’t know it at the time, but his entire future was wrapped up in those thirteen words. Stinking thinking and rash remarks changed the trajectory of his life and the course of history. His entire legacy was at stake and he didn’t even know it.
No one describes it better than the prophet Obadiah many years later. “”And no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau,” for the Lord has spoken.” Esau had surrendered his birthright and spoken death over his own life. The true proverb says it like this; “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” “I am about to die…” Yep, Esau spoke death over his own life and that is the fruit he ate.
Have you ever been tempted to go backwards? You know, when you’ve chosen to do what was right and it still ain’t working out. It stinks when good decisions seem to yield bad results. What then? “Must you go back to, from where you came?” It’s certainly tempting to reverse your decisions when you’re sure you did things God’s way and it turned out to be a big mess. “No good deed goes unpunished” is the comical euphemism often inserted in these situations.
Nevertheless, it’s also abundantly clear that going in reverse is NOT the answer. I’d like you to consider your faith-walk like riding a bicycle. It can be wobbly at times, and truly, steering takes a million micro-corrections to get you where you want to go. But, bicycles don’t have reverse. Sometimes you just have to keep going forward until you find the right spot to make bigger turns. But don’t be mistaken, you are always going forward. I really like how Abraham said it, as he instructed his servant on finding a wife for Isaac. I’ll paraphrase it for you. “Go find a wife for my son, but under no circumstances are you to take him back to, from where I came. That life is over and all of God’s promises are right in front of us.”